Dissent on the city streets
Yet Henrietta Street itself features in the story of Barry’s short life, as he participated in a daring raid here in June 1920, as Volunteers raided the King’s Inns for arms and ammunition. Denis Holmes, a contemporary of Barry and a fellow participant in the raid, recounted that “the darting nature of the coup, which was brought off in broad daylight, created a great sensation at the time, especially as the King's Inns was an outpost to the British military position at the North Dublin Union close by."
Even today, the King’s Inns casts a reminder of British rule onto Henrietta Street, with the symbolic lion and unicorn, the Royal Coat of Arms, in the stonework of the building. With the republican movement seeking desperately to arm itself in the city by any means necessary in the summer of 1920, the King’s Inns armory was identified by the leadership of the IRA as likely to reap dividends. Holmes' abiding memory of the raid was Barry "coming out of the guardroom with a Lewis gun hugged in his arms."
Holmes recalled that the IRA had watched the King’s Inns for some time, as "our GHQ (General Headquarters) had learnt through the intelligence department that although the Inns were well guarded, military discipline was not so strict as it was in other outposts." The daring raid on King’s Inns involved other men mobilising in the vicinity of Henrietta Street, with Holmes recounting "a party in Henrietta Street … was standing ready to protect the men on the raid." Volunteers "formed a cordon across Henrietta Street, and did not leave their position until all our men had got safely away.”
Henrietta Street and its surrounding area witnessed considerable excitement in the period. A stone's throw away from the street, at Yarnall Street, the printing company Mahon’s was publishing the IRA newspaper, An tÓglach, the name Ardiff Mahon is still there over its door. IRA volunteer John Shouldice recounted Volunteers being mobilised to protect the printers from Dublin Castle detectives seeking to put the IRA publication out of action.