Firm Foundation: Molly Mahoney
by Ken Callahan
The area of Cleveland known as West Park has a history that reflects that of this region as part of the Western Reserve—New Connecticut—after being surveyed by the almost- eponymous Moses Cleaveland in 1796. After receiving permission from the resident Native Americans, early settlers founded Rockport Township in February of 1820, in roughly the footprint of the current neighborhood. The area later became West Park Township in 1900, named for one John West, who built a recreational park around his home at West 140th and Lorain.
The Township was annexed by the City of Cleveland in 1923. Today, census data indicates West Park contains the highest concentration of Irish Americans in the northeast portion of Ohio, including the Mahoney family, which itself incudes Molly Mahoney.
Molly is known to much of the Greater Cleveland litigation bar for her long time service as a staff attorney to a wide selection of the judiciary of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. As such, she and her fellows act as intermediaries, channeling concerns between the Bench and Bar and are a critical component of advancing and resolving civil disputes in the local court system.
Molly and her four siblings grew up in St. Mark’s Parish. Leo Jr., Marty, Molly, Sarah and Kathleen—are offspring of Leo Jerome Mahoney and Sarah “Sally” nee Coyne Mahoney. Sally’s dad was from Leenane, Co. Galway, her mom from Tourmakeady in Mayo. Though they grew up one hill from each other, they met at an Irish dance on the east side.
Molly’s father, Leo Mahoney’s dad’s family were from Cork; his mom’s family from Kerry. He is from a long line of St. Ignatius grads: his father Leo B., was SIHS ’18 (and St. Ignatius College ’22). Uncle Dr. John Mahoney was ’55, Leo was ’58, and her uncle, the fame Fr. Tom Mahoney, was ‘57. Molly’s brothers too continued to carry the torch at W. 30th and Lorain. And the couple met at the West Side IA.
Molly graduated from Magnificat High School and later obtained her B.A. from Dayton, where she played women’s Rugby. “It is only slightly less violent than the men’s game” she says. She studied for a summer at Trinity College Dublin. She was awarded a JD from Cleveland Marshall Law.
Growing up in the Mahoney home had its challenges. In addition to the seven in the immediate family, her grandparents and great-uncle moved in too. The ten would squeeze into the nightly dinner table, when her dad would return from one of his two jobs and sixteen-hour work day. Extended Clan Mahoney attend Sunday Mass together at St. Mark’s.
Molly learned much about her Irish heritage from the presence of her relatives in the home. “We learned to work hard, to be honest, caring, kind, faithful.” Molly danced with the Cannon-Kish and Bobby Masterson groups.
Molly began working in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court as a schedular for Judges Matia and McDonnell; she was later hired as Staff Attorney for Retired Judge Ken Callahan in 2005. She has since worked with many Judges in the General Division, on the asbestos docket, and on the 8th District Court of Appeals.
Molly Mahoney is the current Staff Attorney for Judge Rob McClelland, widely considered to be one of the finest trial judges in this jurisdiction. In many ways, a Staff Attorney represents the Court: dealing with lawyers, providing legal research, drafting opinions, sometimes dealing with media, they are unspoken facilitators.