Barrett, Edmond (‘Edward’) (1877–1932), Olympic athlete, wrestler, and hurler, was born 3 November 1877 in Rahela (also known as Rahealy or Rathella), Ballyduff, Co. Kerry, one of twelve surviving children of Thomas Barrett, farmer, and Bridget Barrett (née Whelan). He was educated locally and probably worked in a nearby quarry (which helped to develop his physique) before emigrating to London in 1902. In London he initially worked as a wireman with Lewis & Allenby of Regent St., before joining the City of London Police on 23 February 1905. Barrett won an All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship medal with London Emmets, who beat Cork representatives Redmonds by 1–5 to 0–4 in the 1901 final (which was actually played on 2 August 1903 in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary). It was the only time the hurling title was won by a team from outside Ireland. He was a versatile sportsman, and at 6 ft 1 in. (1.85 m) and 15 st. 9 lbs (99.3 kg) at his peak, was particularly suited to sports that demanded both power and technical skill. Wrestling was a popular sport amongst London policemen, and Barrett won the 1906 British Cumberland-style wrestling title, in which both contestants start with their arms locked around each other and their chins resting on the right shoulder of the other – a contestant loses if he loses his grip, or if any part of his body except the feet touches the ground.
In 1908 he won the British heavyweight freestyle (then known as ‘catch-as-catch can’) title, defeating Cork-born Con O'Kelly (qv) in the final. In June of the same year Barrett proved his versatility by winning both the shot put and the freestyle discus events at the AAA Olympic trials, and he was included in the UK Olympic team in these events, as well as in the javelin, wrestling, and in the tug-of-war. He was a vital member of the City of London Police tug-of-war team, which was generally regarded as the finest team in the world at the time. At the Olympics the following month Barrett won an expected gold medal in the tug-of-war and won a bronze medal in the heavyweight freestyle wrestling, this time losing to O'Kelly in the semi-final, but defeating Englishman Edward Nixson in the bronze medal match. He also competed in the heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling competition, but lost in the first round to Hugó Pahr of Hungary. In the shot-put event Barrett's first throw was 12.89 m (a lifetime best), which was good enough to allow him to finish fifth overall, but he had to withdraw from the competition after another competitor dropped a shot on his ankle before the second round of throws. He also participated in the freestyle discus and javelin events; in the 1908 Olympic trials he threw the discus 107 ft 2 in., the inaugural British record for the event. In 1911 he again won the British heavyweight freestyle wrestling title, and at the 1912 Olympics he competed in the Greco-Roman wrestling and also entered the discus, shot-put, and tug-of-war events, but did not compete for some unknown reason.
Barrett's gold and bronze medals in 1908, and his British wrestling and All-Ireland hurling titles, as well as his achievements in the throwing events at national and Olympic level, mark him out as one of Ireland's most versatile and successful athletes. He remains the only man to have won both an All-Ireland hurling and an Olympic gold medal. The Barretts were a remarkable sporting family: his brother John (possibly his twin) won six Irish AAA shot-put titles (1903, 1906–08, 1910 and 1911) and won English AAA shot-put titles in 1911 and 1923. He also competed with Edmond at the 1908 Olympics in the shot-put and discus competitions. Another brother, James, was an outstanding wrestler of international class and was at one stage of his career regarded as a possible world champion.
Edmond Barrett was commended for courageous conduct in stopping a runaway horse in April 1909. He resigned from the City of London Police on 21 July 1914, reputedly to follow a professional wrestling career and to open his own gymnasium, and was later the licensee of the Hibernian Social and Athletic Club in Chalk Hill, London. Barrett married (date unknown) Nora McCarthy, a widow, and had one son, Edmond, and two stepsons from his wife's first marriage. He died 19 March 1932 in London, and is buried in Finchley cemetery.