Irish Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles About the Old Neighborhood

Irish Fill City Church History

100 Years of Nationalities in Cleveland, 42nd of a Series
by Theodore Andrica
Cleveland Press, March 3, 1951

Until the great influx of central and eastern European immigration to Cleveland just before the turn of the century, the Irish shared with the Germans the distinction of giving the largest quota of Catholic priests in this city.

Strictly speaking, the Germans led the Irish in the number of Catholic priests, but most Germans belonged to the Franciscan Order and concentrated their activities in St. Joseph's monastery and to some extent as teachers in the local seminary.

On the other hand, the largest block of Catholic secular priests was composed of natives of Ireland.

Founded 12 Churches

Up to 1900, the Irish were solely or principally responsible for the founding of 12 Catholic churches in Cleveland. This number is in addition to St. Mary's on the Flats and St. John's Cathedral, the first priests of which were Irish born.

In the corresponding period, that is from 1835 to 1900, the German Catholics established eight churches; the Czechs and Moravians four; the Poles four; the Slovaks two; Italians two; Lithuanians one; Slovenes one; French one; Hungarians one; and one composed of mixed German-Irish faithful.

Today, of course, the situation is quite different. Many of the Catholic churches founded by the Irish, now have many non-Irish members.

Irish in Dominant Role

Following are the churches in the founding of which the Irish had a dominant role:

St. Patrick's (picture) (parish), Bridge Ave. near Fulton Rd., established in 1853, with Monsignor James Conlan as first pastor. A detailed story of the founding of this and St. Malachi's Church was printed in a previous installment.

St. Bridget's Catholic Church, now known as St. Anthony's and St. Bridget's, 2508 E. 22d St., was the second Catholic church established by Cleveland Irish. It was founded in 1837 to serve the needs of the Irish Catholics living then in the vicinity of Perry St. and Woodland Ave.

The first mass was celebrated on Christmas morning, 1857, by Rev. Frs,. J. B. O'Connor, A. A. Martin and John Quinn from St. Mary's Seminary. The Rev. Fr. Denis Tighe was appointed first resident pastor in 1864.

First Catholic Church

Holy Name Church, 8328 Broadway, was founded by the first Catholics to settle in Newburgh between 1850 and 1854. In April, 1854, Bishop Amadeus Rappe said the first mass in the home of Thomas Byrne.

Later, Rev. Frs. Michael O'Neill, Thomas Walsh, Edward Hannin, J. Salaun, A. A. Martin and E. M. O'Callaghan did the same in the house of Patrick Potts. The lots for the first church edifice were bought in 1860.

St. Augustine's, W. 14th St. and Howard Ave., was established in 1860 when Bishop Rappe purchased a large lot at the corner of Tremont and Jefferson Sts. And built a small frame church. During the first years of its existence, this church was attended by Rev. Frs. J. P. Carroll, J. F. Gallagher and T. M Mahony from St. John's Cathedral.

Set Up in 1865

Immaculate Conception Church, Superior Ave. and E. 41st St., was established by Bishop Rappe in 1865. Among the pioneer laymen of this parish were James Watson, Owen Doran, Henry McGann, Daniel Mulcay, Thomas Maher, Donald McDonald, Andrew McNally, Myles Gibbons, Timothy Dineen and Denis Sheridan.

St. Columbkille's parish, Superior Ave. and E. 26th St., was formed in 1871 when Monsignor Edward Hannim, administrator of the diocese, appointed Rev. Fr. James O'Reilly as pastor of the portion of the Cathedral parish east of Perry St.

In the summer of 1880 Rev. Fr. E. M. O'Calllaghan resigned from the pastorate of St. Patrick's and established St. Colman's Church (picture) W. 65th St. and Madison Ave.

The first church was a rented one-room house, 20 by 40 feet, on Pear St. Shortly thereafter a lot was purchased on the east side of Gordon Ave. (W. 65th St.) which became the nucleus of the present church.

St. Aloysius in '98

St. Aloysius' Church, 1032 St. Clair Ave., was established in January, 1898, with Rev. Fr. Thomas F. Mahon as first pastor.

St. Thomas Aquinas' Church, Superior Ave. near Ansel Rd., was founded in 1895 by Monsignor Thomas Pl Thorpe. The first resident pastor was Rev. Fr. Thomas F. Mahon in 1898.

St. Catherine's Church, E 93d St. and St. Catherine Ave., was established on June 15, 1898, when the Rev. Fr. John T. Carroll bought a tract of land at the corner of Woodland Hills and Heath Ave. The first resident pastor was Rev. Fr. James J. Quinn.