Tuesday 17 September 2019

Paying tribute to Barry

Minister Paul Kehoe inspecting the guard at the ceremony
Minister Paul Kehoe inspecting the guard at the ceremony
Dignitaries prepare to lay wreaths at the Barry Memorial on Wexford’s Crescent Quay

Anna Hayes

Guests gathered in brilliant evening sunshine for the annual John Barry Commemoration in Crescent Quay, the final event in the Wexford Maritime Festival calendar and one of then Mayor, Cllr Jim Moore's final public engagements.

The annual event acknowledges the influence and legacy of John Barry, the founder of the American Navy. He had emigrated to America at a young age, in the sure knowledge that he would never see his home again.

The event was attended by local politicians, council officials, representatives of Wexford and US ex-servicemen organisations, and members of the Barry family with Philip Dillon, as well as Eric Taylor from the Defence Attaché's office in the US Embassy.

Cllr Moore said: 'John Barry built a better life for himself, using his talents to further the cause of his adopted land in a truly remarkable way. Displaying courage, industry and selflessness, he was inspirational in his role with the US Navy.'

Cllr Moore remarked that on a recent visit to Savannah, Georgia, he had been struck by the historical connections between Savannah and Ireland, particularly Wexford.

He pointed out that a number of Wexford names were common there - all descendants of people who had left Wexford to pursue a better life. Thousands, he said, had attended an event in Franklin Park, Washington DC in May 1914 to unveil a bronze statue of Barry, including a delegation from Savannah.

Bringing the discussion back to the present he posed the question: 'What would Commodore John Barry, leader, patriot and refugee make of the world we live in today?'

He prasied the progressive work of the U.N. Peacekeeping activity over the past 60 years and paid tribute to the Irish Naval Service who had been assisting in the Mediterranean Sea in the rescue of refugees from the sea, commending in particular his party colleague Minister of State with responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe.

Wexford County Council, he pointed out, had completed their first year of support activity under the Irish Refugee Programme and had, to date, supported refugees from nine countries.

'From my readings and understandings of Commodore John Barry I think he would challenge us; challenge us strongly on this world crisis. Whether we live in Ireland, mainland Europe or the United States of America I am sure he would say 'We can do more - we must do more to deal with this tragic world crisis.'

He added: 'Commodore John Barry was one of many who left our island for a better life. May his inspiration continue to motivate us all to work for a better world.'

Wexford People

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