Born on this day in 1745 in Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland. John Barry was the son of a poor tenant farmer. He was raised on stories of the butchery of the Irish by the English under Cromwell. Evicted by their English landlord they went to live in Rosslare with an uncle who owned a fishing skiff. Barry carried a hatred of the British with him for the rest of his life.
Barry signed up as a cabin boy and worked his way up through the ranks and across the Atlantic to the American Colonies. He was a successful merchant captain sailing between Philadelphia and the Caribbean. He commanded many ships including the Barbados, the Patty and Polly, the Industry, the Page and the Black Prince.
He lost his brother Patrick “lost at sea on a French frigate the limey’s sunk.” His hatred of the British deepened further.
In 1776, prior to the declaration of Independence, he was awarded a commission in the Continental Navy by John Hancock. He went on to command the Delaware, the Lexington, the Raleigh and the Alliance.
So successful was Barry that the British offered him the huge sum of £100,000 and command of any Royal Navy Frigate if he would defect. Captain Barry responded that not all the money in the British treasury or command of its entire fleet could tempt him to desert his adopted country
After the war, in 1797 Barry was issued Commission No.1 in the US Navy by George Washington and became thereafter “Commodore Barry” and “Father of the American Navy”.
“In placing Barry at the head of the Navy I have special trust and confidence in [his] patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities” President George Washington
The boys of Wexford, the Croppy boys, the Whiteboys, the celebrated rebels of 1798. Remember today the anniversary of the Battle of Vinegar Hill. Irish Rebels foolishly tried to make a stand to fight a pitched battle against the English troops. Unshod farm-boys armed with pikes standing toe to toe against the cannons and muskets of English regulars. Foot soldiers trying to stand against professional cavalry. Brave, misguided and badly led fools.
Think what it says about the English rule of Ireland, that the rebels risked so much with so little. On this week, when Britain decides to remain or to Brexit the EU there is a voice calling from the depths where Ireland says “good riddance to bad rubbish”. Truth is we were treated pretty shabbily over here on John Bull’s Other Island. I doubt the great potato famine would have happened if the blight struck Yorkshire. It was a kind of handy form of genocide on the Catholic Irish.
Personally I would not like to see Britain depart from the EU. European Union has become the greatest force for peace (there’s an oxymoron) in the history of the planet. There are problems with the experiment that is Europe. You don’t make progress by leaving. You make progress by engaging. Britain has ever been the reluctant bride in the Euro experiment. Vested interests in the London Stock Market have much to lose from further integration. Stock market traders thrive on chaos and uncertainty. Stability is their enemy, they see no profit in peace.
These vested interests have a lot of money and they own many media outlets. Their voices are strong and they chant their jingos to fools to the beat of a war drum. They tell the uneducated classes blatant lies that suit their own agenda. They are no friend to those uneducated classes. Just be clear, if Brexit happens they will simply swap the Polish immigrant workers for immigrants from Africa, Asia or South America. The English working stiff who waves the flag and votes to leave will pay by throwing out the very protections that are afforded to workers by the EU.
The value of Sterling will plummet, and the market traders will make a fortune selling currency hedges. They will celebrate Brexit with a new Porsche.
Requiem for the Croppies; by Seamus Heaney
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
we moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
and stampede cattle into infantry,
then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
and in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.