Barry, Ralph Brereton (1899–1943), lawyer, was born 2 October 1899 in 18 Upper Mount St., Dublin, youngest son of Ralph Brereton Barry, QC (later judge), and Clare Mary Barry (née Roche). Educated at Mount St Benedict, Gorey, Co. Wexford, and the Oratory School, England, he was at Sandhurst preparing for active military service in November 1918. Eschewing a military career, he took the stage in London instead, where he is best remembered for his part in Robert Lorraine's revival of ‘Cyrano’. On his father's death (1920) he threw up the theatre and commenced studies at TCD; he was auditor of the Hist. (1921–2), graduated (BA, LLB 1922), and was called to the Irish bar in Michaelmas term 1922 (and to the English bar by Gray's Inn, 1933). Early in his career he visited the USA with a delegation from the Irish, English, and Scottish bars led by Sir John Simon. Despite being the butt of much of Barry's humour, Simon (it is said) asked him to join the liberal party and enter British politics. Back in Dublin, Barry slowly built up a large practice and became a senior counsel (April 1935), appearing in many important cases, most notably as a defence counsel for Oliver St John Gogarty (qv) in the Sinclair libel case (1937). Elected a bencher of the King's Inns (Easter term 1943), he was at his untimely death one of the leaders of his profession.
Of a unionist family background, he was vocally pro-British during the second world war. As an unsuccessful Fine Gael candidate for Wicklow in the 1943 general election, he declared during an election campaign speech that if a monument were erected to commemorate Ireland's neutrality, it should be topped by the statue of a British airman. Sporting an accent akin to that of Micheál MacLiammóir (qv), he too was somewhat of a thespian, spending a great deal of his time in the theatre hankering after the career that might have been, and as an amateur actor with the Drama League. Widely and deeply read, he was an art collector of some distinction and a member of the United Arts Club (1923–43). To Terence de Vere White (qv), Barry, an active member of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, was one of those whose considerable impression on his contemporaries was inexplicable if gauged merely by his feats. A romantic with a cruel streak, he judged a party as a social event by whether ‘it had one moment of beauty and imagination’ (White). Unmarried, he lived at Millbrook, Eglinton Rd, Dublin. He died 2 December 1943 in Dublin as a result of typhoid fever, contracted on circuit in Letterkenny. He left an estate valued at £2,668.