Barron (Baron), Geoffrey (1606–51), lawyer, politician, and diplomat, was eldest son of Lawrence Barron, a catholic merchant from Clonmel, and Mary Wadding of Waterford, sister of the Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding (qv). The Barrons, a minor branch of the Munster Fitzgeralds and one of Clonmel's leading families, owned property in the town and across the River Suir in Co. Waterford. Geoffrey's mother died in 1616 and his father in 1622, leaving the young man £1,900 in debt, with three brothers (Bartholomew, Luke, and Michael) and one sister (Katherine) to support. He settled his financial and family affairs in Ireland before departing for London (1631), where he studied law at Middle Temple. He quickly established a reputation as a distinguished lawyer and scholar, and gained national prominence after his election to the 1634 parliament for the borough of Clonmel. During the second session the lord deputy, Thomas Wentworth (qv), announced his decision to withhold a number of ‘graces’, concessions granted to Irish catholics by Charles I in 1628. The catholic MPs expressed outrage, and successfully defeated a government-sponsored act with the assistance of a number of protestants, including Sir Piers Crosby (qv). Shortly afterwards, on 3 December 1634, Wentworth contrived to have Barron, one of his most vocal critics, expelled from the commons.
Although Barron did not sit in the 1640–41 parliament, he reemerged on the national scene as a prominent supporter of the confederate catholics. He helped Edmund Butler seize Waterford city in early 1642, spent most of the following year in France trying to raise money and supplies, and was back in Ireland by 1644, reorganising confederate finances as a member of the committee of public revenue. In August 1645 he acted as a witness to the treaty between the confederates and Edward Somerset (qv), earl of Glamorgan, who controversially conceded a number of religious concessions to Irish catholics on behalf of Charles I. Two months later Barron sailed for France as confederate ambassador to the court of Louis XIV, replacing Father Matthew O'Hartegan (qv), a controversial and outspoken cleric. He remained in Paris throughout 1646 and took no part in the dispute that erupted in August 1646 between the papal nuncio GianBattista Rinuccini (qv), archbishop of Fermo, and the signatories of a peace treaty with the lord lieutenant, James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond.
Barron returned to Ireland in February 1647 and made a vital intervention in the general assembly, challenging claims by the French ambassador, Du Moulin, that Louis XIV favoured the peace treaty. The following month, the assembly appointed Barron and Gerald Fennell (qv) as agents to offer new terms to Ormond, in a desperate attempt to prevent him from handing Dublin over to the forces of the English parliament. The negotiations lasted a number of weeks before the lord lieutenant finally rejected the confederate terms. In April Barron escorted the English royalist agent George Leyburn, recently arrived from Paris, to the supreme council, as efforts continued to bring about an acceptable accommodation between the confederates and the Stuart monarchy. For much of 1647 he acted as liaison officer between the commanding officer of the Munster forces, Theobald Taaffe (qv), 2nd Viscount Taaffe, and the supreme council in Kilkenny. In December 1647 the general assembly elected Barron to the council as a resident member for the province of Munster, testimony to his growing influence within the confederate association.
In his history of the 1640s Richard Bellings (qv) dismissed Barron as an extremist, an ardent supporter of the nuncio, but he was more a figure of moderation. In the early months of the uprising, he opposed the expulsion of protestants from the kingdom, believing they had much to contribute to Ireland, and in 1648 tried unsuccessfully to reconcile the feuding confederate factions. Barron maintained a neutral stance in the subsequent civil war, but the Cromwellian invasion in 1649 forced him to become actively involved once again. He strongly opposed the surrender of Limerick in 1651, and as a result was executed shortly after the Cromwellians occupied the city (October). Barron was among those exempted from the general pardon granted on 12 August 1652, and the family did not recover any property during the restoration period. Surviving evidence suggests that Barron may have married prior to 1641, but that his young bride died shortly afterwards. He was survived by his younger brother Bartholomew (qv), a Franciscan priest, distinguished theologian, and author of numerous works.