Irish Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles About the Old Neighborhood

Irish and Bishop Tilted on Policy

100 Years of Nationalities in Cleveland, 41st of a Series
by Theodore Andrica
Cleveland Press, February 27, 1951

The devotion of Cleveland's Irish to the cause of Irish freedom at one time reached such proportions that it led to an open conflict with the head of the local Catholic diocese.

This famous controversy was between the late Bishop Richard Gilmour and the Parnell Branch of the Irish Land League.

The latter group was organized in 1872, originally as the Irish Literary Assn. But it soon changed into the oath bound Clan-Na-Gael Society. It advocated the "No-Rent" policy as the best means of solving the question of land tenure in Ireland.

On Feb. 4, 1882, Bishop Gilmour delivered a lecture in the Cleveland Tabernacle in which he said that the "No-Rent" policy advocated by the Parnell Branch meant unqualified theft and was based on Communistic doctrine, and therefore it was un-Catholic, un-Irish.

Having been checkmated by Bishop Gilmour, members of the Parnell Branch soon adopted other tactics by organizing an Irish Land League for women, hoping that the bishop would not oppose the women.

Bishop Gilmour on May 25, 1882, condemned the women's group, too. Consequently he was widely attacked in public meetings and in some Cleveland newspapers.

The bishop answered these attacks on June 1, 1882, by excommunicating any woman member of the Parnell Branch Ladies' Land League in Cleveland.

With the years, Cleveland Irish adopted more suitable means to advance the cause of Irish freedom. They really came into their own with the emergence of Eamon De Valera on the Irish and the American scenes.

Of De Valera's first visit in Cleveland on Oct. 5, 1919, the Cleveland Press said the following:

"A crowd jammed Central Armory and cheered Eamon De Valera, president of the Irish Republic for nearly half an hour when he made his plea for Irish independence. Men and women stood on chairs waving American and Irish flags.

"A crowd estimated at 3000, unable to get in the armory, met in a tent outside, just east of the City Hall. De Valera addressed the later. T the close of the meetings, it was announced that bonds of the Irish Republic, to the amount of $63,000 had been sold, out of the quota of $125,000 set for Cleveland."

De Valera came to Cleveland again Apr. 21, 1927, arriving at the Union Station at noon. A large parade led his entry into the City Hall where Mayor John D. Marshall and City Manager W. R. Hopkins presented him the key to the city.

He came here again Jan. 30 and on Mar. 26, 1930 to plead for funds with which to establish a new Irish daily in Dublin. His Cleveland appearance was arranged by the four local branches of the American Assn. For the Recognition of Irish Republic. At the banquet in Hotel Hollenden on Mar. 26, more than $3000 was raised for De Valera's cause.