Barry Day commemorated in Wexford town
THE annual Barry Day Memorial Day and wreath laying took place under grey skies at Crescent Quay last weekend, honouring the town and its seafaring people for their enduring maritime traditions.
Among those present were the outgoing Mayor Cllr Frank Staples, over members of the Wexford borough district, Deputy Brendan Howlin, the leader of the Labour Party, newly-appointed Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D'Arcy, Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe and military veterans
St Patrick's Faythe and Drum Band provided the music as the colour party paraded to the quay, while the Holy Confraternity Band and the Loch Garman Silver Band also played during the ceremony, celebrating the founder of the US Navy, Commodore John Barry, who was born in Tacaumshane, and emigrated to America at the age of 16.
In his address Cllr Staples said that '54 years ago a famous descendant of this county, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, laid a wreath here'.
'In doing so, the President of the United States acknowledged the role that John Barry had played in the revolutionary war, and in the establishment of a free and democratic America. The following day President Kennedy told Dail Eireann that he kept Barry's sword in his office to inspire him.
'On that same historic occasion on 28 June 1963, Kennedy outlined the links between Ireland and America. He said "Benjamin Franklin, the envoy of the American Revolution, was received by the Irish parliament in 1772. Our interests have been joined ever since".'
The mayor said our interests continue to be joined, not only in the strong ecomonic and investment links between the two countries, 'but in the true acts of friendship that we have seen from America in guiding and helping the path to peace in Ireland'.
'Commodore John Barry, the founder of the US Navy, was one of many sons and daughters of Wexford who built a new life in America. We remember and salute them all today,' he said.
The memorial had a second purpose. To remember all Wexford Seafarers who built and sustained the community, and who in some of Ireland's darkest hours - sustained the nation itself.
'We remember the crews of the Wexford steamship fleet, who provisioned this land, at great risk and hardship during the last World War.
'Our very street names recall those ships - Edenvale Avenue, Menapia Avenue,' he said, and that of the Kerlogue whose brave crew rescued 168 German sailors after their ships were sunk by the British Navy during World War Two.
When the U.S. Navy was established, John Barry, by then a celebrated ship's captain in the American Revolutionary forces, was promoted senior captain by George Washington with Commission Number 1 and from then on he was given the title 'Commodore'.
A monument to John Barry, stands just inside the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, was dedicated in 2012.