Peter Barry OB

Obituary: Peter Charles Averill Barry
Born: 6 May 1923
Died: 17 August 2016

Peter Barry was born in 1923 the fourth of a family of five boys. He had a happy childhood living on the outskirts of Edinburgh. His secondary school years were spent at the Benedictine Abbey School at Fort Augustus near Loch Ness. He became a prefect and excelled at sport; gaining colours at rugby, hockey and cricket and winning the swimming cup. He loved his time there and was a frequent visitor as an Old Boy.

Despite having no real farming connections, he enrolled at Edinburgh University to study Agriculture as the Second World War engulfed Europe. At the end of the family summer holiday in 1940, his father dedicated the safety of his family to the care of St Matthew. They all went their separate ways and weren’t reunited again until 21/09/1945, the feast of St Matthew.

Peter spent most of the war years learning his trade on various farms from the Highlands to the Lowlands of Scotland, at a time when agriculture was still labour intensive. Later in life, he produced an entertaining book, ‘The Happy Peasant’, filled with stories from his time working with horses, prisoners of war, squads of women etc.

Shortly after the war, his inspirational father died. He had no job and his prospects were drear. He had put in an offer to rent a farm near Edinburgh but had been outbid. He started a novena to Our Lady, which he finished while on pilgrimage to Lourdes. On that very day, he received a telegram to say that his offer had been accepted after all. In the same year, 1947, he married Nancy, ‘the girl of his dreams’, and he started farming on his own account. In 1958, he bought nearby Ratho Mains, 260 acres of prime arable land. It was an enormous gamble as he had to borrow all the money to do it, and had four children by then. Through this time he had been a supportive member of his local parish, but the bottom fell out of his world after the Vatican Council and the introduction of the new liturgy. He felt powerless as, one by one, his children lost their faith. In 1975, he first heard that a group in France were reviving the Tridentine Mass and thereafter it became his mission to bring the ‘Old Mass’ back to Scotland. Occasional visits by traditional priests were encouraged, and Masses were advertised and held in various halls and hotels around the country. Endless obstacles were thrown in his way and the local hierarchy did their best to stymie his every effort.

Eventually, having gained the support of the Marshalls from Bothwell, the Society of St Pius X were persuaded to send priests up to Scotland and over the course of the next 15 years, churches in Glasgow and Edinburgh had been procured and a regular Sunday Mass schedule established. Over this period, the four Society bishops and over fifty priests had been accommodated by Peter and Nancy at Ratho Mains. He never really got over the loss of his beloved wife in 2001, but despite his declining health he always attended every Mass in Edinburgh right up to the Feast of the Assumption, two days before his death, aged 93.

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