Barry, Vincent Christopher (1908–75), chemist, was born at Cork on 17 May 1908, the youngest in the family of seven sons and four daughters of a post office official, James Barry, and his wife, Agnes (née Stack), daughter of a small businessman. After a schooling by the Christian Brothers at the North Monastery, Cork, he obtained a scholarship to University College, Dublin, where he obtained a first-class degree in chemistry in 1928, gaining first place. The following year he obtained an M.Sc. and began a period at University College, Galway, as assistant to Thomas Patrick Dillon (qv) and researcher on polysaccharides. In 1939 he obtained a D.Sc.
He was given a fellowship in organic chemistry in 1943 by the Medical Research Council of Ireland (set up in Dublin in 1936), to carry out research on the chemotherapy of tuberculosis. When laboratory accommodation was made available at TCD in 1950, Barry was appointed director and continued research in the same field. In 1957 a compound (later known as clofazimine) was developed that was found to be beneficial in the treatment of leprosy. In the mid 1960s the interests of Barry and his team (which included J. G. Belton, M. L. Conalty, J. F. O'Sullivan and Dermot Twomey) were extended to the chemotherapy of cancer. Over the years they published some 170 papers and Barry travelled extensively to lecture. In 1974 he donated the patents of a new leprosy drug to the Indian government.
Barry was elected MRIA on 16 March 1944; he was the academy's treasurer from 1962 to 1970 and president from 1970 to 1973. He was a fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland, the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland and the American Thoracic Society. In 1968 he won the Boyle medal of the Royal Dublin Society (awarded for work of exceptional merit in pure science). At University College, Galway, Barry lectured through Irish and, jointly with Dillon, brought out a chemistry textbook, Ceimic (1950), the first to be published in Irish. Barry was also adviser on scientific terms to Tomás De Bhaldraithe (qv) for his dictionary of modern Irish.
Barry was one of four prominent citizens who challenged unsuccessfully the constitutionality of the third amendment to the Constitution Bill of 1972. The bill, which was passed, enabled the Republic of Ireland to enter the European Economic Community. Barry died on 4 September 1975. In 1931 he married a recent scholar and graduate in commerce at University College, Dublin, Angela O'Connor, daughter of James O'Connor, headmaster of a boys' school at Tullamore, Co. Offaly, and his wife, Sabina. Vincent and Angela Barry had two sons and four daughters.