Yours ‘Til Hell Freezes

A Memoir of Kevin Barry
Síofra O'Donovan
ISBN 9781782189268


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‘…Nobody would know from letters like these that Kevin was, by this time, up to his neck in the war against the British. Nobody knew that by November that very year he would have become one of the most iconic martyrs of the Irish independence movement, and that his signature Yours ’til hell freezes would become part of his mythology.’

Yours ‘Til Hell Freezes is an intimate portrait of the young rebel martyr Kevin Barry, written by one of his closest descendants. Síofra’s life was enriched by Kevin Barry’s belongings – his shillelagh, his letters in brown ink, his Belvedere cap, his memorial cards, his copy books, secret British correspondence and letters to and from eminent figures about him. Kevin Barry was the first person to be hanged by the British after the 1916 Rising, at 18 years old during the War of Independence. Although Kevin was young, he had a full life. This book brings new life to Kevin Barry, using material from family papers and the public domain. The poignant descriptions of his final hours is gripping and chilling in detail.

“A richly detailed and discursive search for the real Kevin Barry, a voyage of discovery through family roots and disagreements, digging deeply into family memory and archives, asking, if not always answering, hard questions. Honest and intense and always readable.”

Maurice Manning, Irish academic and former Fine Gael politician

“A work of feeling and truth, in which imaginative audacity is accompanied by the pressure of felt family experience. Síofra O’Donovan sees the personal in the political because she abhors the lie which often keeps them apart.”

Declan Kiberd, University of Notre Dame


About the Author

Síofra O’Donovan is from Wicklow, Ireland. She has published historical novels, travelogues, and has written a series of novels set in 12th century France. She has penned cultural and travel features for the Irish Examiner, The Irish Times and the Warsaw Voice. She teaches writing workshops in schools, mental health and prison facilities using the dynamic and archetypal Hero’s Journey.



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