2019 United Irish Societies Honorees, by John O’Brien, Jr.

177thCleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

2019 Theme: Irish Churches of the Diocese of Cleveland

Greater Cleveland Area Honorees:

2019 United Irish Societies Honorees ☘️:
Grand Marshal: William “Bill” Homan
Mother of the Year: Eileen Kilroy
Inside Co-Chair: Patti Maher Hanrahan
Outside Co-Chair: Sr. Corita Ambro

William “Bill” Homan, 2019 Grand Marshal 

Bill Homan was born to parents Hope & Charles Homan in Cleveland, both representing families from Cork and Mayo.  He is a graduate of St. Ignatius High School and Cleveland State University.  He married his wife Patricia, daughter of Irish born parents Nora and John Corcoran in 1977, and have three children:  Heather, John and Erin.

Bill is a member of numerous Irish organizations in the Cleveland area, most notably an active Charter Member #10 of the Irish American Club – East Side, where Bill served as President (1980-1982) and organized a committee to acquire a permanent home for the club in 1981, which is still their home today.  Throughout the years he served in several board positions and chaired numerous committees and events.  In 1988, he was honored as the Lake County Irishman of the Year; and in 1999 was honored as the Irish American Club – East Side Member of the Year.

Bill is a long-time member of the West Side Irish American Club and the former Irish Heritage Club.  He has served on the board of The Mayo Society and the Irish American Archives Society. 

Along with his dedication to his Irish heritage, he is also a dedicated Catholic.  Bill is not only a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Bluestone Division (formerly the Western Reserve Division where he served as President); he is also a member of the Holy Name Society of his parish, St. Justin Martyr in Eastlake, where you can find him at Holy Hour every Wednesday evening and at Mass on Sundays. In 2000, he was named Man of the Year by St. Justin Martyr.

Bill has also been a long-time supporter of the United Irish Societies, the Padraic Pearse Center, the Irish National Caucus, the Cleveland Feis Society, and many of the Irish festivals.

Eileen Kilroy, 2019 Irish Mother of the Year 

Eileen Kilroy’s life journey makes her an excellent honoree as the 2019 Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s Irish Mother of the Year.  Eileen has always instilled the values of family, Irish heritage and Catholic faith into her children and grandchildren.  Her upbringing and life experiences have been the source of the energy she shares with her family and the larger Cleveland Irish community.

Eileen was born in 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her father was Patrick McGurk of County Tyrone and her mother was Teresa McGurk (nee O’Donnell).  She and her two brothers were raised in the house where she continues to live today. Eileen attended Blessed Sacrament Elementary School and Lourdes Academy.  She marched with the West Side Irish American Club Drill Team in the 1950s and 1960s and was the club Secretary.

At a time when few women traveled alone, she took a one-week boat trip across the Atlantic to Ireland in 1957, visited with her father’s family in Tyrone, and stayed in the cottage where he grew up.  While there, she became more aware of her father’s experience in the 1920s fighting for Irish freedom, and has immersed herself in the history of that struggle ever since.

Eileen met Patrick Kilroy from County Mayo at a West Side Irish American Club dance.  They married in 1965, and honeymooned and worked in London for a period of time. Eileen and Patrick had five sons and two daughters:  Patrick, Dominic, Martin, Julia, Joseph, Stephen and Kathleen.  She is very proud that all seven of her children attended Blessed Sacrament, went to Catholic high school, and all seven have college degrees.

Eileen encouraged her children to participate in all activities, especially music, dance and history.  They took Irish music lessons with Tom Hastings.  They were also enrolled in dance lessons, and were inspired by Tom McCaffery, Tom Byrnes and Al O’Leary.
From that persistent exposure, her children grew to love traditional Irish music and dance.  Tom Hastings was instrumental in organizing and managing the effort of “The Kilroy Ceili Band.”  Eileen’s energy and persistence have been instrumental in making “The Kilroy Ceili Band” an integral part of the Irish traditional music community in Cleveland.  Additionally, three of her children danced with the Peggy Cannon School of Irish Dance. All of her children followed in Eileen’s footsteps, and marched with the West Side Irish American Club growing up, and today several of her grandchildren do the same.

Eileen has volunteered for Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival over the years. Today, she volunteers at the Franklin Plaza Nursing Home and Cleveland Food Bank.  She is a member of St. Patrick’s Parish (Bridge Avenue) since the closing of Blessed Sacrament in 2010.  Eileen is also an avid seamstress and knitter; and continues to participate in ceili dance activities.  She also teaches two of her grandchildren to play music and/or Irish dance.  Her grandchildren are as influenced by her enthusiasm for their Irish heritage and music as her own children were – and continue to be.

Patti Maher Hanrahan, 2019 Inside Co-Chair 

Patti Maher Hanrahan is the daughter of Jack and Maggie (O’Boyle) Maher.  She has two brothers, John (deceased) and Dennis (Cindy).  Patti grew up in West Park, attending St. Patrick (West Park) Elementary School.  She continued her education at St. Augustine Academy, Miami University and Cleveland State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Psychology degree.  Patti has a very rewarding career as a Volunteer Service Manager at Ames Family Hospice House/Hospice of the Western Reserve.

Patti has been married to her wonderful husband Tim for 33 years.  Tim is retired from the Boilermakers Local 744.  He is currently a Trustee on the Board for the West Side Irish American Club (WSIAC). Patti and Tim have three adult children: Meghan, Patrick and Tim. All three of them have graduated from Ohio University, which makes their parents extremely proud. They have all participated in the Parade marching units of the WSIAC.  Meghan and Tim were also active with the Leneghan Academy of Irish Dance.

Patti has been the Coach of the WSIAC Pom Pom unit for the last 38 years.  Although she began to work with a small group, Patti can now say that she has touched the lives of hundreds of girls.  She has helped to give them memories that she hopes they cherish.  They also discuss Irish history and trivia at the beginning of each practice.  In laying the groundwork for the future of this unit, daughter Meghan has eagerly joined her Mom as an Assistant Coach of the Pom Poms. 
In addition to coaching, Patti has been involved in many volunteer activities at the WSIAC, including bartending, working at boxty dinners, planning children’s parties and helping to organize the Jr. Marching Units Exhibition.  Patti was thrilled when she was honored as the WSIAC 2012 Woman of the Year.

Patti has been a delegate to the United Irish Societies since 2000, representing the West Side Irish American Club.  In this role, she has been active in the planning and execution of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Banquet.  In addition, she was a member of the Committee that drafted the guidelines for the UIS Honorees.  She also participated on the original committee for Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, to which she has returned as a volunteer.

Community involvement is very important to Patti. She is a volunteer with the children at the House of Champions, which is affiliated with Urban Community School and Metro Catholic.  She is also an ardent supporter of Malachi House.  She has been active as an officer and committee chairperson of the many organizations of which her children have belonged.

Starting in childhood, Patti’s parents instilled in her a love for all things Irish.  Her Irish heritage is a very important aspect of her life, which she and Tim have proudly shared with their children.  The Hanrahan family was thrilled to be able to travel to Ireland together in 2017. The entire family will be enjoying the events and activities that are associated with the honor of Patti being chosen as the 2019 UIS Co-Chair.

Sr. Corita Ambro, CSJ, 2019 Outside Co-Chair 

Sr. Corita Ambro was born in Olmsted Falls and attended St. Joseph Academy, St. John College and Kent State University.  She also attended Canisius College in Buffalo, where she studied American Sign Language 

and obtained her master’s degree.

Sr. Corita is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She began her career by teaching in Catholic schools for 15 years.  Then she was assigned to St. Augustine Church and Hunger Center in Tremont.  She developed the Hunger Center to its current capacity of providing three meals per day, every day of the year, to anyone who is in need.  She not only helped to prepare the meals, but she served them too, with a hug, some encouragement and lots of hope.  She directed patrons to detox and drug treatment, housing, clothing and other personal needs.  In addition, over the years, she has helped to raise many children at the convent.

In her close work with the deaf community, Sr. Corita established a choir and a senior citizens group.  She was also instrumental in establishing special liturgies for those parishioners who are blind.

In her few moments of free time, Sr. Corita is a devoted fan of both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns.  Although she recently retired after 45 years at the Hunger Center, Sr. Corita will continue to work with others by visiting the sick and the elderly.

West Side Irish American Club Honorees:
Nell Buckley: Woman of the Year

Nell (McCarthy) Buckley was born in Kenmare, County Kerry to Peter F. and Margaret T. McCarthy (Harrington) and is the second youngest in a family of six: Stephen, Clare, Florry, Anna, and Philomena. Nell attended the Poor Clare Convent School for primary and secondary education. 

She joined the Gaelic League when she was 10 years old and attended evening classes twice weekly to speak the Gaelic language, songs, and recitations.  She played Camogie for Co. Kerry and later for Co. Waterford.  After graduation from secondary school, she went to Skerry’s college in Cork City for a two-year business course.
She got her first job in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.  It was there that she met Frank Buckley, who became her husband and lifelong partner. In 1957, her brother Stephen sponsored them to come to America. Within days of arrival they became members of the WSIA Club.

Frank and Nell were married in 1960 at St. Patrick’s Church on Bridge Avenue.  They were blessed with 2 children, Jim (Kathie) and Clare (Clint) and have 5 wonderful grandchildren.

Nell joined the Cleveland Gaelic Society and the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA) and were welcomed by wonderful people from both the East and West Side. Nell became treasurer of the PTAA in 1992 and held that position for 26 years.

In 1958 Nell proudly sang the Irish National Anthem in Gaelic and the American National Anthem at the beginning of the St. Patrick’s Day parade and continued to do so for the next 16 years.  She also enjoyed having a part in the Irish Players Association. Nell became President of the Cleveland Gaelic Society in 1958.

She worked as a secretary for General Electric for 24 years.  She then started working at St. Rose School on the west side of Cleveland.  Her last job was manager of Kirby Manor, a senior citizens apartment building. 
In 1994, at the request of the late Terry Joyce, Nell joined Terry in Reciting the Apostle Creed in Gaelic at the St. Patrick’s Day Mass at St. Colman Church, and still carries on that tradition.

The WSIA became a home away from home for 61 years for Nell and Frank.  They still enjoy playing “25” card game at the club.

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