Barrett, Richard (1889–1922), republican, was born 17 December 1889 in Hollyhill, Ballineen, Co. Cork, son of Richard Barrett, farmer, and Ellen Barrett (née Henigan). Educated at Knocks and Knockskagh national schools, he entered the De La Salle College, Waterford, where he trained to be a teacher. Obtaining a first-class diploma, he returned to Cork in early 1914 to take up a position at the Upton industrial school. Within months he was appointed principal of Gurranes national school. Devoted to the Irish language and honorary secretary of Knockavilla GAA club, he did much to popularise both movements in the southern and western districts of Cork.
From 1917, inspired by the Easter rising, he took a prominent part in the organisation and operations of the IRA and IRB. Planning and participating in several raids and pioneering a series of gun-running episodes, he came into close contact with many of the GHQ staff during the war of independence, ensuring his own rapid promotion. After the capture of Tom Hales (qv) in July 1920, he was made quartermaster of Cork No. 3 Brigade, becoming a vital cog in the fight in the south and west. Arrested in February 1921 and again on 22 March 1921, he was interned in Spike Island, where he was the moving force behind several escape attempts. He succeeded in escaping (10 November 1921) and was soon appointed to the staff of 1st Southern Division and later to the GHQ staff.
A staunch anti-treatyite, he became assistant quartermaster-general to Liam Mellows (qv), and was duly stationed in the Four Courts. Destined for London to orchestrate the rescue of Reginald Dunne and Joseph O'Sullivan, both imprisoned for the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson (qv), he was dissuaded by the ultimatum to the Four Courts garrison and returned to his post. Captured on 30 June, he was taken to Mountjoy prison, where as part of the prisoners' jail council he instigated several failed escape attempts. With Rory O'Connor (qv), Liam Mellows, and Joe McKelvey (qv) (each representing their respective provinces according to some sources), he was executed without trial as a reprisal for the death of Seán Hales (qv). Ironically, he was a close friend of Hales during the war of independence and had strongly disavowed the republican policy of targeting dáil deputies. The executions were widely criticised, and condemned by the London Times and the American press. Although they provoked retaliatory attacks, they ultimately broke republican morale.
Barrett was shot 8 December 1922 at Mountjoy prison. Initially buried in the grounds of the prison, his remains were reinterred at Ahiohill churchyard, west Cork, on 1 November 1924. He features in several poems and ballads that commemorate the deaths of the four republican leaders.