Former economist respected in worlds of books and business

Kevin Barry: September 24th, 1948 - April 25th, 2014

Kevin Barry: former economist with NCB Stockbrokers and the Central Bank

Kevin Barry: former economist with NCB Stockbrokers and the Central Bank

Sat, May 17, 2014, 08:37

The death has taken place of the bookseller and former economist with NCB Stockbrokers and the Central Bank, Kevin Barry.

Barry was one of a number of young economists who worked in the Central Bank in the early 1980s before going on to take up prominent positions in Irish business and academia.

Interest rate policy was a matter of great importance at the time and Barry’s views on the matter were regularly reported on the pages of this newspaper. He was considered by colleagues to be an enthusiastic and skilled analyst, who was not afraid to arrive at conclusions as a result, and whose advice and observations were carefully listened to.

He had a lifelong interest in business. Barry chaired a Central Bank team that won the Irish Management championship in 1984 and went on to represent Ireland in the competitive management training exercise in that year’s European finals in Helsinki. The other team members were the later stockbroker, Padraic O’Connor, later financial regulator, Liam O’Reilly and the later principal of the college of human sciences at UCD, Brian Nolan.

Landmark takeover
In 1985 Barry left the bank to take up a position as an economist with Dermot Desmond’s NCB Stockbrokers. He was one of a number of highly regarded public servants who moved to the firm during this period. He later worked with Desmond, Eamonn Rothwell, Liam Booth and others on the acquisition of the Irish Continental Group. Later again he played a key role in the landmark takeover of Irish Distillers in 1988.

In early 1993 Barry, by then head of equity research and a member of the NCB board, decided to leave to take up an executive role in the bookshop business he owned with his wife, Gemma (née Clear). The couple had acquired the Bray Bookshop, in Bray, Co Wicklow, from Gemma’s mother, the late Helen Clear, five years earlier, and had subsequently added the Dublin Bookshop on Grafton Street. In the years after his departure from NCB they opened outlets, under the Dubray brand, in Blackrock, Stillorgan and Rathmines in Dublin, as well as in Kilkenny and Galway.

Independent chain
Dubray is the last of the independent chains of Irish bookshops, as Eason also has large stationery, news agency and distribution divisions. The group has survived the onslaughts of the recession, internet sales and the ebook, and has about 100 staff.

A large gathering of family, friends and former colleagues from the worlds of books, business, the public service and the economics profession gathered for a humanist celebration of Barry’s life recently in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin.

A succession of speakers spoke of his work ethic, love of business, music, wine, bridge, golf, holidays with his close circle of friends, robust conversation, but most of all his family.

Born and educated in Dublin, he met Gemma when they were teenagers on holidays in Wexford. They married in their early 20s. In his opening remarks to the Kilmainham event, humanist director of ceremonies Brian Whiteside said that when planning for the day, he asked Gemma what her husband’s passions had been. “Me,” she replied.

Kevin Barry is survived by his wife Gemma, sons Eoghan and Cormac, daughters-in-law Celeste and Ruth, grandchildren Saoirse and Rebecca, mother Rita, brothers and sisters Des, Tom, Jean, Ursula and David, and extended family.