Articles, Maritime History, Vessels

American Navy


Two Irishmen in American Maritime History were remembered in separate ceremonies in the United States during the Autumn of 1998, when Commodore John Barry from Wexford and John Philip Holland from Clare were honoured in late September and early October by the Maritime Institute of Ireland. Resolutions to honour these men, were passed unanimously, at the Council meeting on Monday 14th September.

On the 25th September a plaque was presented by Institute Secretary Pat Sweeney to Rear Admiral Christopher Weaver U.S.N. Commandant of the Washington Naval District, aboard the U.S.S. Barry DD 933 moored at the Washington Navy yard. The inscription on the plaque: “presented to U.S.S. Barry DD 933 – September 1998 to commemorate the 100th year of the first dive of Holland No 6, on 17 March 1898 designed by John Philip Holland, born 1841 Liscannor, Co. Clare, died 1914 Paterson, N.J., also Commodore John Barry, father of the U.S. Navy born in 1745 in Co. Wexford, died 1803 Philadelphia, for whom this ship is named. Presented on behalf of the Council of the Maritime Institute of Ireland by Pat Sweeney, Secretary.”

I, (Pat Sweeney) spoke about William Grace from Co. Cork who founded the American shipping company the Grace Line in the 1860’s and Jerome Collins from Cork City who died in Siberia in 1881 on the ill-fated Jeanette Expedition to find the N.W. Passage. Referred to Emest Shackleton, Admiral McClintock, Admiral Beaufort, Lt. Cmdr. Esmonde VC., L.S. McGuinness VC. and Lt. Cmdr. Keams all Irishmen in the British Navy.

The attendance included Col. G. Flatness, US Defence Attaché to Ireland, Capt. Blunt, OC Naval Facility and Messrs. Ken Thompson Rep. Irish Ambassador, James Clarke President DC Board AOH – Co. Clare; Dave Aland and AOH Anapolis – Co. Wexford and Capt. V.P. Mochini, US Naval Attaché Rome. Also two direct descendants brothers John and Pat Barry. Event ended with tour of the ship.

Deep River & Groton Ct. on 5th October 1998

The Secretary presented Dr Richard Morris with his certificate of honorary Life Membership awarded to him by the Maritime Institute in recognition of his lifelong dedication to ensure that John Philip Holland received proper credit for his submarine inventions and his place in world maritime history. In his reply Dick Morris said he was very honoured to receive the award and thanked the Council of the Maritime Institute. He would continue to carry the torch for Holland as long as he was able.

The discussion started at 9.30 a.m. with the group that has come together around Dick Morris who believes in sharing all. They were Jim Gallagher; Tom McGoonan, model maker, a superb craftsman; Leo Shea, ex-submariner US Navy and Garry McCue a computer design expert, whose enhanced plans must be seen to be believed. Talk continued non-stop until 6 p.m.

These covered the Holland exhibition put together by the Co. Louth Museum Dundalk, which could not have been mounted without the help of this group, and which had just finished being on show at our National Maritime Museum and now was touring Co. Clare for four months starting at Liscannor, also the permanent Holland display at Dun Laoghaire for 1999. The group had no firm information regarding the plans of the Electric Boat Coy., next year, also the US Navy celebrations of the 100th year of their Submarine Service in 2000. The group is concerned that Holland and his work will have an honoured place in both of these events.

In New York City the Secretary visited the New York State Maritime School and Marine Industry Museum at Fort Schulyer, on the invitation of Mr. Frank Duffy an Irish-American with a lifelong connection to the famous Moran Towing Company of New York founded by another Irishman in the last century.

The school and museum are housed in an 19th century fort built to protect New York harbour, whose five sided design is understood to have inspired the Pentagon defence building in Washington DC. The museum displays are in the gun galleries while the classrooms are the former storerooms on the inside of the structure. The display includes many shipping companies in the US founded by Irishmen.

In Washington DC on 8th October I called to the US Navy Museum Washington Navy Yard, and was met by the Director Mr. Kim Nielsen and the Curator Dr. Edward Furgol and taken on a tour of the exhibits lasting over an hour. I also sought to get information on US Navy plans for the 2000 Submarine event and was promised details. They are very interested in our Maritime Museum situation in Ireland and willing to help us.

Finally, I called to the Chilean Naval Mission to the U.S. to obtain details and photographs of a small ship design which could be used by the Naval Service. A very successful trip!
Pat Sweeney