Barry, Robert (c.1588–1662), catholic bishop of Cork and Cloyne, was born in Britway parish, Co. Cork, son of David Barry of Ardra and his wife Helen or Ellen (née Waters). He was educated at the Irish College, Bordeaux, and ordained there in 1612. Thereafter he acted, for a time, as chaplain to the dowager countess of Ormond in Ireland and England, pursued further theological studies in Paris, and secured the award of DD from Bordeaux (1617), followed by some time spent in Italy. A protonotary apostolic (December 1619), he was appointed vicar-apostolic of Ross in May 1620, holding the abbacy of Middleton in commendam. Like several Munster bishops, he clashed with the regular clergy in the 1620s and 1630s. Following the 1641 insurrection he may have been named to the confederate negotiating team for talks leading to the 1643 cessation, and he accompanied the confederate delegation sent to Charles I in England in 1644 as a ‘clerical watchdog’ (Ó hAnnracháin, 72), perhaps journeying on to consult the queen in France. On 26 June 1644 the confederate supreme council recommended him for the vacant see of Ross. The nuncio Rinuccini (qv) subsequently added his endorsement, and on 19 April and 11 August 1646 Rinuccini recommended him again, now for the combined dioceses of Cork and Cloyne, but with the supreme council sponsoring an alternative candidate. A case against his appointment was investigated in Rome in early 1647 but he was provided to Cork and Cloyne 8 April 1647 (NS) and consecrated 25 March 1648.
Barry had joined the hierarchy's condemnation of the Ormond peace in August 1646, and proved a leading supporter of Rinuccini in subsequent years. He was one of four bishops who co-signed the promulgation of excommunication of supporters of the truce with Lord Inchiquin (qv), Murrough O'Brien (1614–73), alongside the nuncio (27 May 1648), thereafter defending his stance on an issue that proved deeply divisive among the episcopate. The truce had left his dioceses under protestant control; on 29 January 1649, he expressed his opposition to the second Ormond peace on these grounds. He signed the catholic bishops’ Clonmacnoise decrees (December 1649) calling for unity against the Cromwellian threat and, on 30 April 1650, a further episcopal call for resistance. As the catholic and royalist cause crumbled, in August 1650 he joined an episcopal condemnation of the leadership of the Stuart viceroy, the marquess of Ormond (qv), with a call for catholics to withdraw their support from him, and was delegated to convey the bishops’ terms to Ormond. At the subsequent assembly at Loughrea, in November 1650, he was reportedly one of three bishops who urged reconciliation with the pope and Rinuccini, defending the earlier censures. In March 1651 he was one of those contacted by Fr Anthony MacGeoghegan (qv), agent from Rome, about the reestablishment of the confederacy under a Catholic ‘Protector’, and thereafter promoted the attempt to procure aid from Charles, duke of Lorraine. In December 1651 he headed the list of Munster confederates pledged not to negotiate with the English parliamentarians. The commonwealth authorities placed a price on his head 22 May 1652, and by 1653 he had gone into exile to Nantes. He may have been involved in an abortive French-sponsored plan to land in Scotland in December 1653, but this came to nothing. Instead he remained in Nantes, assisting the local bishop, for the rest of his life, retaining contact with his vicars-general in Cork and Cloyne as far as possible. A holder of faculties to absolve those who had incurred Rinuccini's censures, among those he absolved was Archbishop John Burke (qv) of Tuam, also resident in Nantes. He died 26 June/6 July 1662 and was buried in the cathedral at Nantes, as Bishop Patrick Comerford (qv) had been.