Riocard Bairéad

Poet / United Irishman

Memorial Garden.
Thomas Malone Collection
Children of Lir, Erris, Co. Mayo
Map. of Erris
Downpatrick Head, North Mayo
Glengad, North Mayo
Kilcommon Cliffs, Nth. Mayo
Kit Island, Kilcommon, Nth. Mayo
Thomas Malone Collection

Poet / Teacher / United Irishman

Known locally as Dici the Poet of Erris  whose work consisted of verse also songs in the Irish language.  He was active during the 1798 Rebellion.  His name has several variations.

Richard Barrett or Barret also known as Riocard was born circa ?1740-1819.  He lived in Barrack Erris, Co. Mayo. [i]

Riocard Baréid was born at Barrack, near Ely Bay in Belmullet during 1735.  His actual birth date has been disputed on several websites as between 1735 up to 1740.  His families were descendants of the Norman Barrett’s:

Riocard Bairéad was born (b.1735 /40?-d. 1818 / 19?) at Barrack near Ely Bay in Belmullet (sources provide various dates between 1735 & 1740)   He was  a descendant of the Norman Barrett’s.  He was known by various names: Riocard Bairéad, Dici or Dick Buiread also Richard Barrett. [ii]

Riocard Bairéad aka Richard Barrett (1740-1819) was born in 1739 or 1740 in the village of Barrack on the Mullet Peninsula of north Mayo.  He was known in his lifetime as the ‘Poet of Erris‘.  He was also known locally as Dící or Dick Buiréad:

Bairéad Riocard (Barrett Dick) was born between 1735 & 1740 in Barrack Belmullet Co. Mayo, on the Erris Peninsula.  He appears to have remained in the district for his entire life.  He moved only to Carne a neighbouring parish possibly circa 1790. (Ó Braonáin, Dónall October 2009) [iii]


He was a employed as a teacher also worked as a small farmer:

Bairéad worked as a small farmer also teacher in the local hedge school:

Riocard Bairéad was an Irish poet & satirist who is remembered for his songs ‘Eoghan Coir’ or ‘Preab san Ól.’  [iv]


He eloped with then married Nancy Tollett (daughter of a prosperous Protestant landlord) Following her demise he married Maire Ní Mhóráin.  They had two children Mary &  Riocard. The family lived in relative isolation in Carna Galway in a small cottage on a five-acre farm. [v]

He married twice: first to Nancy Tollet following that marriage he moved to a small cottage & a  five-acre farm in Carna (where he spent the rest of his life)  His second marriage was to Máire Ní Mhóráin.  With Máire he had two children Mary & Richard Barrett:

His first marriage was to Nancy (daughter of Seán Tollett of Moyrane farmer & member of the Established Church):


Riocard Bairéad made a significant contribution to folk poetry that was very much sought after by writers in the English language.  His songs in mixed language were basically macaronic.  He was a ‘hedge-schoolmaster.’  His compositions were generally satirical: they included Eoghan Coir’ also ‘Preab san I’ & ‘Tarraing na Móna’:

He provided literary entertainment for the local gentry.  He composed satire in the form of a mock-lament ‘Eoghan Cóir’ during 1788.  (He was  possibly the author of Bean an Fhir Rua)  Specimens of his poetry appeared in Hardiman’s edition of O’Flaherty’s 1846 Chorographical Description of West or H-Iar Connacht.  [vi]

Riocard Bairéad wrote in both the Irish & English language or a macaronic mixture of the two. His satirical style that has been compared both to Jonathan Swift & Robbie Burns.[vii]

Riocard Bairéad was a satirist.  His style was influenced by Dean Jonathan Swift:

He made a significant contribution to folk poetry: his work was very much sought after by Writers in the English Language.  His compositions were generally satirical.  They included such songs as ‘Eoghan Cóir’, ‘Séamas Ó Loinsigh’ also ‘Seán Gabha & Oíche Sheáin Uí De Dhiarmada.’ (Ó Braonáin, Dónall October 2009) [viii]

Loss of Material

Numerous poetry pieces have survived despite his second wife’s burning of material following his demise as she had considered his political work worthless:

Several poetry pieces have survived despite his second wife Maire burning of material following his demise as she considered his poetry worthless:


Richard Barrett was imprisoned for political connections with United Irishmen.[ix]

Risteárd Bairéad was a member of the Society of United Irishmen.  During August 1798 he ‘turned out’  with other pike-men to oppose General Humbert & one thousand one hundred French troops when they landed in Killala at the Races of Castlebar.  Following the French surrender in September he was arrested but indicted for Incitement rather than armed participation: he was released within three months. [x]

Risteárd Bairéad spent his life in the barony except for three months imprisonment at Castlebar Gaol as a result of his participation in the 1798 United Irishmen Rising :


The Poet of Erris’s demise occurred either in 1818 or on December 8th or 18th 1819.  He was  interred at Cross graveyard (west of Belmullet) with his grave looking out towards Inis Gluair:

He was buried at Cross Point in north Mayo: (

Riocard Bairéad’s demise occurred on 8th December 1819.   He was buried in Cross Abbey outside Binghamstown in Co. Mayo:

His demise occurred on 8th / 18th (?) December 1819:

P. J. Kavanagh noted in Bywords  a Times Literary Supplement  27th September 1996 that Bairėad / Barrett (1739-1819) a son of Belmullet is buried at Cross Point near Binghamstown north Mayo within an old graveyard that was surrounded by the Atlantic on two sides where the side wall of which was recently destroyed by a storm.  The result was bones fell onto the strand: they were collected then reinterred behind a repaired wall.  His grave marked ‘fili’ also was inscribed with ‘Why spend your leisure bereft of pleasure/Amassing treasure? Why scrape and save? / Why look so canny at every penny? / You’ll take no money into the grave.’ (page 16)  [xi]


[i] Bairėad Risteárd ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[ii]  Riocard Bairéad ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[iii] Bairéad. Riocard ( [Assessed 11th January 2022]

[iv] Riocard Bairéad ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[v] Ibid

[vi] Bairėad Risteárd ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[vii] Riocard Bairéad ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[viii] Bairéad. Riocard ( [Assessed 11th January 2022]

[ix] Bairėad Risteárd ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[x] Riocard Bairéad ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]

[xi] Bairėad Risteárd ( [Assessed 10th January 2022

[xii] Riocard Bairéad ( [Assessed 10th January 2022]



Comments about this page

  • Riocard Bairead is mentioned in an article ‘ Pirates and Smugglers of the Mullet Peninsula’ by Brian Donan inthe Cathair na Mart Historical Journal 2019 Number 36, page 98.

    In a Mayo News article ‘Legacy of Poet and Hedge School Master : dated 10 / 06 / 2019, page 31, Fr. Kevin Hegarty states that Rememberance is deserved during this year of the Bicentenary of his death. Also included in the article are the remarks of J. B. Trotter from his ‘Walks through Ireland’ published in 1819: that Bairead was ‘a fine old man, between seventy and eighty years of age, modest of concelatery manners, having the deportment of a plain English county gentleman, with all the mildness of polished life. His conservation was sensitive and the vivacity of the poet won out.’

    By Noelene Beckett Crowe. (16/06/2019)

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