Barran, Nicholas (c.1555–1613), merchant and politician, was eldest son of Edmund Barran, alderman and sheriff of Dublin, and his wife Mary, daughter of Alderman Nicholas Humphrey, mayor of Dublin (1541). Elected sheriff for the year 1590–91 and alderman in 1592, he remained on the corporation until his death. In 1594 he was imprisoned by Stephen Segar, constable of Dublin castle, in retaliation for the imprisonment of one of his men by the municipality. Barran's imprisonment as a representative of the corporation was considered unjust. In 1600–01 he served as mayor for the first time and, with the O'Neill war still in progress, set about improving the defences of the city. He also organised a fairer distribution of the cess (local taxes) by closing loopholes whereby some citizens left the city in time of war to avoid payment. But at the end of his mayoral year he was the subject of an investigation for alleged malpractice. Six aldermen were appointed to look into complaints that he had misappropriated victuals that were for public consumption. In spite of these complaints, he served as treasurer of Dublin corporation for 1603–4. In 1603 he leased from the corporation a house that had been previously occupied by the Browne family, and in 1609 he leased the manse house and glebe land of Taghdoe. He also leased a property in Winetavern St. from the dean and chapter of Christ Church cathedral.
In 1605 the lord deputy, Sir Arthur Chichester (qv), brought in the ‘mandates’ policy, which compelled the leading citizens to attend protestant church services under pain of fine or imprisonment. For a long time previous to this, Barran had refrained from attending such services, but under pressure from the government he was reported to have ‘conformed’ himself to the state church. In 1607 Thomas Plunkett, a noted recusant, refused the mayoral office and Barran was elected mayor for a second time. Once again there seem to have been problems with victuals, and in 1610 a suit was taken to recover money for the diet of soldiers during his mayoralty.
In 1610 the Dublin aldermen established a subcommittee of eight aldermen and the mayor to prepare for the new parliament. The committee membership was evenly balanced along confessional lines, Barran being one of four protestants; the others were three notable catholics and one Francis Taylor (qv), who had emerged as a recusant by the time of the opening of parliament. During the term of the group's deliberations on municipal defences there seems to have been a considerable degree of solidarity among the aldermen and other city councillors against the intrusion of central government and its agents into civic and commercial functions. Nicholas Barran died in 1613 in Dublin, while still an alderman of the city.
He married Eunice (d. 26 May 1632), daughter of Alderman Richard Rounsell. They had three surviving sons, John (b. 1589), Edmund, and Simon, and five surviving daughters, Mary, Alice, Katherine, Anne, and Rose.