Irish Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles About the Old Neighborhood

Early Irish Here Kept Old Sod Ties

100 Years of Nationalities in Cleveland, 40th of a Series
by Theodore Andrica
Cleveland Press, February 21, 1951

Like Irishmen everywhere in America, Cleveland's Irish pioneers, too, began agitating for Irish freedom on the Old Sod, as soon as they arrived here.

At the same time they made sure that St. Patrick's Day would be appropriately celebrated, even though the number of Irish immigrants in Cleveland at the time was relatively small.

The Cleveland Herald in its Nov. 22, 1841, issue reported that on the evening of Nov. 20, 1841, Cleveland members of the Friends of Ireland held a meeting at the Cleveland Court House.

"The meeting gave expression to the Cleveland Irish sentiments in respect to the suffering which the Irish people too patiently endure from England," the report said.

William Milford presided and Robert Parks acted as secretary. The principal speaker was a man named Mooney of New York, a delegate of the Young Men's Repeal Assn. Of Ireland. Mooney said, in part:

"I came to preach the power and majesty of moral persuasion. I came not to ask you to shed your blood in behalf of my country, but to contribute a nominal pecuniary gift as a medium by which to express your sympathy in behalf of the oppressed and your indignation against her oppressors."

$101 Raised for Cause

"Counsellor" Smith of Cleveland responded:

"As an American citizen deeply interested in the welfare of my country, I do most cordially respond to nearly every sentiment breathed forth by Mr. Mooney."

A total of $101 was donated to the cause of Irish freedom by 58 persons, the report concluded.

From the Mar. 21, 1842, issue of the Cleveland Herald we learn how the Irish pioneers of that period celebrated St. Patrick's Day.

"St. Patrick's Day was a memorable epoch to the Irish people in the goodly cities of Cleveland and Ohio (west side), for right joyously, temperately and worthily did they celebrate the national festival.

Banquet is Enjoyed

"Rev. Fr. Peter McLaughlin delivered an oration in St. Mary's (on the Flats) Catholic Church which was listened to by a large audience. After the benediction a large procession was formed, marching to the Ohio City Exchange where a capital dinner ($1 per person) was spread for them by the host, J. Rodgers.

"Rev. Fr. McLaughlin presided at the dinner and was assisted by S. Starkweather. Toasts were drunk to St. Patrick, George Washington, the Union, Father Matthew (founder of the Irish Temperance movement), Bishop Purcell (of Cincinnati), Daniel O'Connell, the repeal of the union between England and Ireland, and finally to the health and happiness of our fair cities, Cleveland and Ohio City.

"Rev. Fr. McLaughlin opened the speechmaking and was followed by J. A. Harris, Robert Parks, John Foot, William Delany and others.

"The meeting was temperate," the report concluded.