THE Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring has said that the naming of a US Navy vessel after Ballyhaunis man, Patrick Gallagher, is a recognition of the role played by Irish men and women in the creation of the United States.
The US Navy announced yesterday that it will name a naval destroyer in honour of Mayo man, Patrick Gallagher. The USS Gallagher, as it will be called, will be built in Maine.
Patrick Gallagher grew up just outside Ballyhaunis before emigrating to the US in 1962. He joined the Marine Corps in 1966 and served in Vietnam.
He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions when he threw his body on a grenade, shielding his fellow marines. Gallagher then threw the grenade into a nearby river where it exploded. He was killed in action just one year later near De Nang and is one of 30 known Irish citizens to have died in the Vietnam conflict.
Minister Ring said: “This is recognition of the individual sacrifice of Patrick Gallagher and also of the role played by Irish men and women in the creation of the United States.
“This week I will represent the Irish Government at the celebration of St Patrick’s Day in Boston, a city which is famously proud of its Irish roots.
"It never fails to impress me how Irish Americans throughout the United States cherish and value their Irish heritage. During my visit I will meet many proud Irish American groups, including no doubt, people with strong Mayo links.
“Indeed, many of them may have arrived in America around the same time as Patrick Gallagher, when emigration to the US from communities in Mayo was so prevalent.
"I look forward to meeting these men and women and their sons, daughters and grandchildren in the week in which they celebrate their Irish roots.”