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Unsung Irish : John Barry February 9, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in The Unsung Irish.

John Barry was born in Our Lady’s Island, Wexford in the year 1745. Fifty eight years later, he was the commander in chief of the entire United States navy fleet.

The young John Barry moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1760 and having already begun his seafaring career, moved steadily up in the maritime world. His first command was of a merchant ship, aged 21, and he perfected his navigation skills sailing back and forth between Philadelphia and the West Indies. By 1776, now a captain in the Continental Navy he continued to be a prolific annoyance to the British forces, capturing some dozen British vessels during these years. When the Revolutionary Wars ended in 1783, Barry returned to the merchant service for a period of 11 years before being made a senior captain in the newly established United States Navy. During this peace time he led trade routes to Asia, amongst other areas.

Commodore Barry then commanded the 44 gun frigate ‘United States’ in the war with France from 1798-1801 and upon cessation of hostilities brought the ship to Washington where she was laid up. Barry then ended his active service but remained head of the navy until his death in 1803.

Today, a statue stands in Wexford town to honour this man who came from humble beginnings and went on to become Commodore of the United States Navy.

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1. Laurie - February 9, 2007

i love your series on the “unsung irish.” have you read fintan o’toole’s new book “White Savage,” about irishman william johnson, who was instrumental in the french and indian wars here in the U.S……

i guess since o’toole wrote a book about him he might not be considered unsung. but i’d never heard of him before that.

2. (un)relaxeddad - February 10, 2007

Now I’m going to have to look up the rest of the unsung. Naval stories in particular always fascinate me, ever since reading about Nelson’s real innovations, which where really about management and delegation (how else do you think he found time for all that canoodling?)

3. Rambling Man - February 10, 2007

thanks for the comments guys – theres a couple of people from ireland who went on to found navies – i’ll be doing one on the founder of the argentinian and the new zealand …

laurie – i’ll look him up ! thanks

4. Hangar Queen - May 6, 2007

Hi.I just popped over from Bock’s and was having a nose around.I’m loving the Unsung Irish series.I’ve always loved his story and it turns out that Commodore Barry is not quite unsung.
Theres a statue of him on 14th St.(one of the busiest in town) in Washington D.C. (I pass it a couple of times a week) and his presence looms large at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis,Maryland also.
Might have to fire a few pics to ye 🙂

5. Hangar Queen - May 6, 2007

Oh..and there’s the USS Barry named for Himself.It was retired from service in 1982 and is on permanent display at the Washigton Navy Yard.
I’ll stop being a pest now 🙂

6. Rambling Man - May 7, 2007

no thats cool to know. i knew there were a few statues of him in hte states but he’s little known over here outside of wexford.

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