Irish Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles About the Old Neighborhood

News Home Magazine

by Albina Molek
Cleveland Press, Sept. 30, 1949

Erin's sons and daughters are gone from the Achill Patch. They have moved from the River Bed, the hill and old Mulberry St. and "the grove."

But the heart of Old Ireland, transplanted to these Cleveland spots back in 1860, has left its spirit standing.

For west of the Terminal Tower, in scattered sections stretching to West Park and Brooklyn, the Irish blarney is still tossed around with a broad tongue.

Beside the Detroit-Superior High Level Bridge, Cleveland's greatest Irish community once flourished. The rain-washed ruins of old St. Malachi's church on Washington Ave. remain as a symbol of a great era. Moss and ivy are starting to creep up on them, making them appear like the remains of many churches in Europe.

Around River Mouth

Irishtown was better known then as the Angle, centering about the end of the old Superior Viaduct. The name today brings visions of Os Court, Bentley Alley, the Detroit Hill and Elm and Center Streets.

Tiny, humble homes stretched near the mouth of the river across from Whisky Island. Here at the mouth of the Cuyahoga, the Irish and Kellys remember Pat Smith's danced and paraded.

Tales of "Hounted House"

How many O'Boyle's, Donovans, haunted house at the corner of W. 25th St. and Washington Ave.?

According to Mrs. Kate Sweningson, who was born and raised in the Angle, Pat's house was "blessed" and the ghost was confined to only one room Still the children dashed past as if the very devil was on their heels, she recalls.

Pickle Barrel Memories

And then there was Ma Stanton's pickle barrel! During recess periods the children of St. Malachi's Boys School and Girls School stopped for a visit in the Stanton delicatessen. They rolled up their sleeves and plunged their arms deep into the brine, feeling around for the biggest pickles. Now and then they'd take a bite and drop the rest back. Later Mrs. Sweningson recalled they could buy the pickles at have price because they'd been bitten.

Her mother, Mrs. Bridget McIver, who lives with her at 1460 W. 45th St., came to the Angle from County Mayo.

St. Malachi's Parish, established in 1867, was the center of the Angle. When the church was built, the part of town west of the Cuyahoga River was known as Ohio City. At the height of the Angle era more than 2,000 families were listed on the parish books.

Irish Split by Progress

But along about 1917, something happened to the Irish village. The old viaduct had bitten into the community as early as 1879. Industry began expanding along the waterfront. A filtration plant was built on the swamp. The Lakeview Terrace homes were born. Bulkley Blvd.invaded the old section and in 1917 the High Level Bridge and its broad approaches grew up in the Irish backyards.

Start to Move Away

The Irish began to move away from the Angle toward higher wages and steadier employment in other parts of the city.

St. Malachi's parish today embraces little more than 300 families. Many of these were forced to move from the Angle. They come to services from remote sections of Cleveland.

Angle "Irons" Still in Fire

Rev. George F. Martin, pastor of St. Malachi's—who is not Irish himself but has become imbued with their spirit—said the people who once lived in the Angle have an attachment for the community that will never die.

He was pastor of the church on Dec. 23, 1943 when the old St. Malachi's, about to celebrate the 75th jubilee, was swept by flames and destroyed. Stunned parishioners built a new church that was dedicated in the spring of 1947.

St. Patrick's, at 3602 Bridge Ave., is an active Irish center. You'll hear the brogue at any church group meeting.

Mrs. Della McNeela, 4609 Clinton Ave., came here 39 years go from Kilmeena, Westport, and still has more than a tinge of the talk of Old Erin. One of her treasured possessions is a bit of heather, straight from the old country where, as a girl, she played on the spongy plant that grows about a foot high.

Proud of Fine Linen

Mrs. Mary Brihan, of 4612 Clinton Ave., is proud of her Irish linens and brings then out for inspection upon request.

And what kind of Irish story would this be without a mention of an Irish cop? John Patrick Gallagher, who lives at 3277 W. 130th St., spreads his blarney to loosen traffic jams. At E. 18th and Carnegie his "shore" and "the boy" are well known to downtown motorists.