National President Seamus Boyle unveils Commodore John Barry Wayside Marker

National President Seamus Boyle was a featured speaker at the unveiling of a new wayside marker at the statue of Commodore John Barry in Franklin Park, Washington, DC, on May 4. Although the statue has been standing since its dedication by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, there has been no interpretive marker to explain to the public who Commodore John Barry was and why he is important today. The Naval Order of the United States embarked on an effort to have a ceramic information marker placed to the side of the statue. Leading the effort for the Naval Order was AOH Brother Captain John Rodgaard, USN, and a member of the Commodore John Barry Division in the District of Columbia.

President Boyle noted in his remarks that “Ninety Eight years ago, my predecessor, AOH President James Regan, stood here for the unveiling of this monument.”  The Ancient Order of Hibernians was the leading force in having the statue placed in Franklin Park. The statue was created by sculptor John J. Boyle on a commission from the Ancient Order of Hibernians and other patriotic American groups of Irish descent.

The AOH president pointed out that “both Houses of Congress had a special adjournment for the occasion and gathered at this park were no less than 50,000 spectators. These included President Wilson, members of Congress, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels – who presided over the ceremony – along with hundreds of leading officials of the government and the diplomatic corps.” The AOH National newspaper, in June of 1914, described the dedication ceremony as follows: “Standing majestically on its beautiful site in Franklin Park, surrounded with trees, flowers, shrubs, and directly facing one of the most frequented thoroughfares of the national Capital, the monument to Commodore John Barry, Father of the American Navy, now forms one of the most attractive memorials of the many which adorn the public parks of the Capital City.” President Boyle closed with a quote from President Wilson’s speech during the dedication: “This man is not an Irish-American; he was an Irishman that became an American.”

Boyle acknowledged the presence of other Hibernians at the ceremony, including National Director Keith Carney, Brother Ralph Day (President of the DC State Board and the Commodore John Barry Division), Brothers Jack O’Brien and John McInerney (leaders of our efforts to erect the Barry memorial at the Naval Academy) and Brother Brian Curran (President of the John Carroll of Carrollton Division).  Following the ceremony there was a reception onboard the display ship (Former U.S. Destroyer) Barry (DD933) berthed at the Washington Navy Yard. During that reception the Gilbert Stewart painting of Commodore John Barry was on display. It is a truly remarkable painting.

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Ballymurphy Families Seeking Justice

Pictured (L-R) Briege Foyle, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) Alice Harper, Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and John Teggart

On December 9th, 2010, nearly 30 years after eleven people were slaughtered by the British Army in the Ballymurphy Massacre three relatives of the victims have taken their campaign for justice to Capitol Hill. These families have survived without public recognition or legal redress for all this time – meetings with Members of Congress are their latest effort for justice and the light of truth.

The massacre took place in the immediate aftermath of Internment by the British Government on August 9, 1971 – yet the horrific events in Ballymurphy between 9th and 11th August 1971 have remained hidden from public knowledge and focus. With the holding of the public inquiry into Bloody Sunday it has become clear that, had the Parachute Regiment been held to account for the murders in Belfast they could not have gone on to murder 14 more civilians with impunity six months later.

Father Sean Mc Manus, President of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus, said: “I was delighted and honored to meet with John Teggart and his sister, Alice Harper, son and daughter of Daniel Teggart and Briege Foyle, daughter of Joan Connolly”. Daniel Teggart (44) father of 13 and Mrs. Joan Connolly (50), mother of 8 were both murdered on August 9, 1971. The nine other victims were killed over the next two days, August 10 and 11.  Fr. Mc Manus called on all Irish-Americans worth their salt to fully support the campaigners’ just demand of an independent, international investigation into the Ballymurphy Massacre.

The sought after outcome of the families of the 11 murdered include the recognition of the injustice they have all experienced as a result of near 40 years without accountability to this massacre – this through an international investigation examining all of the circumstances. They appeal for the British Government to admit accountability for their horrendous crime and cover-ups, hoping to grant a sense of healing and closure.

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