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Moville plaque to mark US Navy link 19.09.08

by Simon McGeady, Inishowen Independent

A CAMPAIGN to promote the link between Moville and one of the most famous serving families in US Naval history is being stepped up this week. The Foyle Punt Association’s annual open day takes place on Saturday, September 20, and for the second year running an official from the American Embassy will be present.
All five Sullivan brothers were killed in November 1942 when a Japanese submarine sunk the USS Juneau during the battle of Guadalcanal.
The connection between the Sullivans and Moville is that Catherine Sullivan, the wife of Albert - the only brother to marry - was the daughter of Moville woman Maggie O’Halloran. Maggie used to live at No 1 Bath Terrace Lane but moved to America in 1920. Catherine and Albert’s children are the only descendants of the Sullivan line.
Last year, Sergeant James Steelsmith, a Defense Department attaché, was on hand to launch a new Foyle Class punt bearing the Sullivan name.
Foyle Punt Association member Lucy White says efforts to have a formal ceremony involving the US Navy to mark Moville’s links to the Sullivans are ongoing and that she expects an announcement from the American diplomat on the planned link-up during this weekend’s visit to Moville.
“The American Embassy have said that they would sponsor a plaque, so I am hoping that we can talk to whoever comes up and get them to organise the visit of a boat next year. We had hoped to get an American naval vessel to call into Lough Foyle this year, and make a presentation of the plaque, but all their boats were already scheduled for this year,” she said.
Market Square resident, John Crumlish, has been calling for greater recognition of Moville’s links with the famous WWII fighting family for a number of years.
Mr Crumlish says the natural place for the plaque would be on the front wall of Mrs O’Halloran’s former home.
However a complication is that the house in question was sold in the spring and although assurances were sought from the new owners that they would permit a plaque to be put up on the wall of their property, it’s not known whether they have agreed to his.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbour five Irish-American brothers from Iowa - George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullivan – enlisted in the navy on the condition that they be allowed to serve together on the same ship. On learning of their deaths (and the deaths of four Rodgers brothers in the same attack) President Roosevelt decreed that never again were brothers allowed to serve on the same ship. He ordered the next ship commissioned to be named after the Sullivans.
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