1803 – Death of John Barry, a native of Ballystampson, Co Wexford, Commodore in the US Navy and renowned as the Father of the American Navy.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

John Barry, credited as the “Father of the American Navy” dies in Philadelphia, PA. Barry was born in Ballystampson, Co Wexford on 25 March 1745 to a poor tenant farming family who were at one stage evicted for inability to pay rent.

Barry was an exceptional sailor and military tactician. Over his 17 year service in the Navy, he was involved in numerous battles with English forces both on land and sea. In 1794 he was appointed the senior Captain of the newly established United States Navy.

It’s a shame that John Barry is not better known – in America and Ireland – because Barry’s story, while hardly unique, is fantastic. He grew up poor in Ireland. His family was forced to leave their farm, evicted by the landlord, then moved to the coastal town of Rosslare. He was drawn to the sea, began working on merchant ships as a…

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