Locals salute naval legend Commodore Barry

Brooklyn Paper
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Join the club: The Commodore Barry Club honors Irish-American naval hero Commodore John Barry at his namesake park in Fort Greene on March 4.
Red, white, and blue: The club members place a wreath on a monument to Barry they installed in the park in 1996.
Word: Teen scholars Luke Proscia, Gavin Cogan, and Kristin Gnoza recited their award-winning essays on Commodore Barry.
The Eire apparent: Mary Nolan, president of the Irish-American club.
Flag waver: Club vice-president John Houlighan treated guests to both the Irish and American national anthems.
Hat’s off!: Mary Lennon sports an awesome Commodore Barry hat for the occasion.
Direct from th Ridge: Bay Ridge Councilman Vincent Gentile also made an appearance.

Talk about a lasting salute!

Fans of naval legend Commodore John Barry hailed their hero at his titular Fort Greene Park on Saturday — celebrating what would’ve been his 272nd birthday in an annual ritual they’ve been performing rain, hail, or shine for the past 20 years.

“We’ve done it in beautiful and terrible conditions,” said Bensonhurster John Houlighan, vice president of the Commodore Barry Club of Brooklyn. “He was a hometown hero and also a big American hero.”

Every year, the Bay Ridge-based Irish-American club gathers at Commodore Barry Park near the Brooklyn Navy Yard to lay a wreath for the man himself — an Irish immigrant who became the first commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy following his heroic exploits during the Revolutionary War, and is now known to many as the “Father of the American Navy.”

This year’s birthday bash had to make do without bagpipes, as the pipers were all booked out for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

But attendees still enjoyed a tin-whistle performance, local high-schoolers reciting essays about the man himself, and Houlighan’s renditions of both the Irish and American national anthems.

The club’s veep hails from Dublin, and singing the Gaelic lyrics gives him a chance to practice his native tongue.

“I never lost the language since school, I keep brushing up on it,” he said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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