hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

June 13, 2012

Barney Gallagher remembered at Whittier ceremony he started

The annual ceremony honoring John Greenleaf Whittier and childhood sweetheart Lydia Ayer this year also paid tribute to the man who started the event more than 20 years ago: Barney Gallagher.

A moment of silence was held in memory of Gallagher, the former Haverhill Gazette editor and longtime Eagle-Tribune columnist, who died in April.

"It's been very emotional (without Barney)," said Gus Reusch, curator of the Whittier Birthplace. "Barney wanted John Greenleaf Whittier's poetry to live throughout Haverhill."

The ceremony helps achieve that goal by teaching school children about Whittier.

It is held at Lydia Ayer's grave site in Walnut cemetery and includes recitation of Whittier's poem "In School Days" by fifth-grade students from Bradford Elementary School.

Declan Bryer and Isobel Donnelly were selected to play the parts of Whittier and Ayer at this year's ceremony, held last Thursday, and dressed in traditional 19th century attire. The students placed flowers at Ayer's grave and presented flower bouquets to their teachers.

"In School Days" was written by Whittier in Ayer's memory and recalls the time both were children and the day Ayer told Whittier she was sorry she had beaten him in a school spelling bee — "Because, you see, I love you."

Ayer died of pneumonia when she was just 14.

"It's really a spectacular story," said Reusch. "You don't meet many people who would rather come in second than in first."

Gallagher was remembered by all for the work he put into the ceremony.

"He just knew the perfect age to do the ceremony with," Reusch. "He knew fourth-graders would be too giggly and that sixth-graders wouldn't want to hold each other's hands. He just put so much thought into everything about this ceremony."

When Gallagher became ill, Reusch took over organizing the ceremony, but Gallagher attended it as recently as last year.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
School News
  • 140415_HG_MSC_ROBOT_4

    MARY SCHWALM/Staff photo Jazzy Brown, 4, of Haverhill, works with a a Robot named Connor as Behavior Specialist Julie Bernier looks on, during an interactive session at the Moody School in Haverhill.

    Their best friend's a robot Posted 2 days ago 5 Photos
  • City's kids are staying in school Posted 37 days ago
  • 140310_ET_RHU_SCOUTS_003

    Bill Cantwell, Haverhill editor of The Eagle-Tribune and editor of The Haverhill Gazette, shows the Cub Scouts of Den 6 Pack 24, Sacred Hearts Parish, Bradford, around the newsroom of The Eagle-Tribune offices and explains how the newspaper is put together. RYAN HUTTON/ Staff photo

    'Cub' reporters learn how the newsroom works Posted 37 days ago 3 Photos
  • Work on new school escalates Posted 44 days ago
  • 140303_ET_RHU_SEUSS_006

    First-graders Ainsley Rousseau, left, and Isabelle Leger, both 7, eat their plates of green eggs and ham and cake.

    A taste of green eggs and ham Posted 44 days ago 6 Photos
  • Thursday, February 27, 2014
  • 140212_ET_RHU_ROBOT_002

    RYAN HUTTON/Staff photo Nicholas Berube, left, 14, fits a plexiglass cover over the electronics of the Whittier team's robot as teammate Grant Montecalro, 15, looks on.

    A boost from NASA Posted 51 days ago 4 Photos
  • Thursday, February 20, 2014
  • 140213_HG_HAND_SEYMOUR_1

    Courtesy photo Whittier Regional High junior Kylie Seymour carries the American flag during the Parade of Nations at the annual World Tap Championships in Germany.

    She's got the beat! Posted 58 days ago 3 Photos
  • NECC employees honored for service Posted 58 days ago
  • 140213_hg_hand_augusto

    HANDOUT PHOTO Northern Essex Community College student Angel Augusto shows his Class of 2014 T-shirt design that won a contest at the school.

    Meet a graduating 'super hero' Posted 58 days ago 1 Photo
  • Thursday, February 13, 2014
  • 140206_HG_MSC_NETTLE_2

    Nettle School teacher Michelle Joubert shows off her classroom, which is a freshly painted.

    12 years old, but just like new Posted 65 days ago 2 Photos

Photos of the Week