Davenport, Scott, Iowa
Sunday, Feb. 19, 1995
together now-it's spelled Garryowen
Jackson County dot wants its name right
By Mary Nevans-Pederson
Iowa- A tiny but stalwart community with Irish roots is trying to keep its
heritage intact by making sure that at least its name is spelled correctly.
Garryowen is a speck on the map in extreme northwestern
Jackson County, at the intersection of Bernard Road and Bellevue-Cascade Road.
But where there used to be a small town, now the center of the community is the
majestic St. Patrick's Church, surrounded on all sides by rolling cropland,
limestone bluffs and timbered valleys.
Garryowen's name has been mangled for years, even by
county and state officials.
There are six misspelled intersection signs, erected by the
county when it was re-addressing all county roads for the recently installed
E911 emergency system. They read: "Garry Owen."
The most prominent information road signs, also
misspelled, are along well-traveled U.S. 61, from Dubuque to Maquoketa.
"Historically, the name has been misspelled for
years, and no one did anything about it, but I'm just fool enough to try to
correct it, "Father Thomas Bisenius, pastor of St. Patrick's Church,
recently told the Jackson County Board.
He and several other community representatives presented a
petition to the board to have county road signs corrected throughout the
Jackson County Engineer Clark Scholz says that the
signs cost about $40 each and that letters would have to be sent to utility
companies in the area and to the residents who live on the affected roadways
notifying them of the name change.
The name Garryowen is a variation of the Gaelic word
for "John's Garden" and most of the first settlers in the area
arriving in 1838 and 1839, were from County Limerick in Ireland.
Garryowen, Ireland, also was a playground for a group
of young roustabouts and ne'er-do-wells, the Garryowen Boys, whose exploits were
memorialized in the song "Garryowen in Glory."
Irish-American army troops, most notably the
fighting 69th New York Regiment and Gen. George Custer's 7th U.S. Calvary
Regiment, loved the rousing martial song. Legend has it that 7th U.S. Calvary
members were singing its lilting lyric as they marched toward their deaths at
Little Big Horn in 1876.