Naval heroism remembered
Published 06/09/2010 | 05:00
IN America he was the dashing naval officer who marked himself out as one of the brightest of his generation.
But the celebrated US naval hero John King moulded his seafaring instinct many miles away from the land which bathed him in glory -- in a tiny rural village in Co Mayo.
The town of Currabee on the outskirts of Ballinrobe welcomed members of the US navy at the weekend to celebrate his life.
For Ann Reid, the celebration was especially poignant, as Mr King was her father's uncle.
"My dad used to talk about him all the time. On his visits to Ballinrobe from America, he would throw sweets and coins to the children of the town," she said.
Born in the quiet rural town in 1865, Mr King was twice awarded the US Medal of Honour for outstanding bravery.
He also had a battleship named in his memory, and on Saturday he achieved hometown recognition -- a statue of him was unveiled in Ballinrobe by Defence Minister Tony Killeen.
Pupils from Ballinrobe NS added a touch of naval flavour to the occasion by accompanying a float they had constructed of the battleship USS John King to the ceremony, towed into the arena by a vintage tractor.