If one were to query the public regarding the Father of the American Navy, they would likely hear the name, John Paul Jones. The Scotsman, John Paul, who added the name Jones to gain some anonymity while hiding in the colonies from the British, deserves great recognition. As a protégé of Benjamin Franklin, he raised havoc along the British Coast before losing his pride, the Bonne Homme Richard, and capturing the more powerful battleship the Serapis, while serving under the French King.
A 6’4 Irishman from County Wexford, Commodore John Barry, however, is far more deserving of the title. By my count, he captured over 30 vessels, including the sloop Edward, the first “armed” vessel captured by the Colonials. The dates, vessel names, and additional details are available on my blog, www.theirish-americanstory.com.
By the war’s end, Barry was commodore of all armed vessels in the service of the colonies. Buried in Philadelphia’s Saint Mary’s Graveyard along with his Ancient Order of Hibernians’ friend, Steven Moylan, Barry, whose Wexford memorial was honored by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, has statues at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and Annapolis. He had been long remembered during Philadelphia’s annual Barry Day Parade.
While we’re on the topic, John Paul wasn’t the only seaman sponsored by Benjamin Franklin. An excellent article “The Fearless Luke Ryan” appeared in the January/February 2013 edition of Ireland of the Welcomes. JS