Tom McGrath began a 250 mile run on Friday, from Manhattan to Annapolis, to raise funds for a memorial to Commodore John Barry at the Naval Academy, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
McGrath, 61, is an accomplished long-distance runner who moved to the US in 1969 to play Gaelic football, according to the Inquirer. He also owns the Black Sheep Pub in Manhattan.
Getting the Naval Academy to agree to the Barry memorial has been a drawn-out process, towards which McGrath’s run will contribute funds.
“Commodore Barry has to be one of the greatest heroes that ever left Ireland,” McGrath told the Inquirer. “He came from poverty in County Wexford and rose to such a height that he was entrusted with the construction and leadership of the U.S. Navy by President George Washington.”
But officials at the Naval Academy originally had little recognition for the historical significance of Barry, the first captain of the U.S. Navy and recipient of the Navy’s first commission from George Washington.
Although Barry commanded the first revolutionary war vessel to capture a British navy ship, and although he was entrusted by Washington with organizing the new nation’s Navy, it took three attempts for Annapolis officials to agree that Barry would be an appropriate person to honor at the Naval Academy.
McGrath’s run will conclude at the proposed memorial site on the Naval Academy campus on July 28th.
On his run, McGrath will visit Irish and Catholic fraternal groups, covering thirty miles most days, the Inquirer reported. His week-long journey will amount to more than eight marathons.
“I’ll turn for inspiration to Commodore Barry, the battles he fought and the loyalty he showed to his adopted country as he helped lead America to freedom,” McGrath told the Inquirer.