The Barry Gate is now crowned and open.
A dream of the Ancient Order of Hibernians came to partial fruition on Friday of last week when Wexford-born born American Revolutionary War hero, Commodore John Barry, was honored by an arch emblazoned in gold letters with Barry's name over the Naval Academy's main pedestrian gate in Annapolis, Maryland.
The workers from Signcraft of Annapolis installed the arch at 11:35 a.m. eastern time on Friday, Jan. 6, according to an AOH statement.
"A delighted group of Hibernians (LAOH and AOH) and members of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick from Philadelphia were in attendance and participated. Those present took an informal but democratic vote to recognize the gate as the Barry Gate. Without objection, the motion passed," the statement said.
With a sheet over the gate for a few minutes, a group held an informal unveiling while John E. McInerney, the National Co-Chairman and Public Relations Director of the Barry Memorial Project, gave a speech in front of the gate.
"This is indeed a great day for the Irish American community and the United States Naval Academy," declared McInerney.
"For a long while we have been saying - 'Let's meet at Barry Gate.' Finally, we are here today actually meeting at Barry Gate."
"For 175 years the Hibernians honored the memory of Commodore John Barry," McInerney pointed out.
"Today, Barry's life, patriotism, heroism and great naval victories are a model and inspiration for our future commissioned officers of the Navy and Marine Corps.
"We accomplished phase one of the Barry Project with the new Barry Gate," said Jack O'Brien, National Co-Chairman and Organizer of the Barry Project.
"Now we have to raise the money to erect the Barry Memorial and Plaza. The total cost will be around $200,000," he said.
According to a previous release from the AOH, over 95 percent of pedestrians passing in and out of the Naval Academy's grounds will pass through Barry Gate.
Efforts to honor Commodore Barry, officially declared as first flag officer of the United States Navy by President George W Bush, originated with the AOH's District of Columbia State Board. The first proposal was submitted on August 29, 2008 and the U.S. Naval Academy's Memorials Oversight Committee gave final approval in January 2011.
It is the hope of Naval Academy officials that Barry Gate will be a popular designated meeting place for midshipmen.