Cleveland Irish: Malachi Run
By Francis McGarry
The Monday Night Meal has been feeding Cleveland at St. Malachi’s Parish for more than forty years. It is only one of the ministries at the parish that feed the hungry. Other ministries at St. Malachi’s clothe the naked, visit the sick and make tangible the Beatitudes. The work that the volunteers participate in is funded with the assistance of those who participate in the St. Malachi Run.
Since the founding of St. Malachi’s in 1865, the parish has been assisting the Cleveland community. As all us Irish folks know, it was one of the first Irish parishes in Cleveland.
Originally, it was decided to have a parish located in the residential area over the river and near the lake. St. Patrick’s was overflowing with Irish as it was, and the new parish was a necessity.
Parishioners worshipped at St. Mary’s of the Flats until the new building was completed. The Church was dedicated in 1871, four years after it had opened a school. It was home to one of the early Ancient Order of Hibernian divisions in Cleveland by 1874. Those Hibernians worked to bring the AOH National Convention to Cleveland in 1884, which was held at Immaculate Conception, or The Mac to maintain our historical Irish nomenclature.
The narrative of Irishtown Bend, Whiskey Island and The Angle at times focuses on the “transgressions” of the area. The number of saloons per capita, a brothel or two, the violence, and squalor are focal points of the general narrative. I once heard at a presentation that, “the police horses would head to The Angle without human guidance.” At the same time the Irish were creating a parish and forming a community that could support its members.
Members like Joe, John and Leander Brogan at 192 Washington, John Berry at 106 Main, William Byrne at 20 Washington, John Brennen at 12 Mulburry, John Brennen at 26 Main, Joh Condon at 58 Detroit, Thomas Corley at 116 Main, Thomas Crone at 150 West River, John, Thomas and William Chambers at 141 West River, Dennis Donellan at 180 Washington, James Dugan at 33 Winslow, John Flynn at 154 Main, Michael and Patrick Gaven at 179 Washington, John, Terrance and Robert Gallagher at 30 Elm, Edward Gallagher at 136 West River, John Gallagher at 136 West River, Michael Gallagher at 6 Main, James and Patrick Gillan at 120 Main, Michael Gibbons at 204 Washington, Daniel Harrington at 139 West River, John Harrington at 189 West River, James Kelly at 168 West River, Tedeus and James Kilcoyne at 182 Washington, Patrick Kelly at 179 Washington, Michael Sr and Jr and Dominick Minoughan at 120 Main, Patrick Murphy at 6 Mulbury, Thomas Murphy at 8 Mulburry, Patrick Murphy 129 West River, Peter Murphy at 175 Washington, John Murphy at the corner of Main and West River, Timothy Murphy at 48 Detroit, Michael McIntyre at 118 Main, Patrick McCanna at 19 Winslow, Patrick and John McLean at 4 Mulberry, Patrick McLean at 4 Mulberry, John McDonough at 48 Detroit, Owen McLaughlin at 8 Mulberry, Michael McMullen at the corner of Main and West River, John McCarthy at 24 Main, Michael McGlynn at 23 Main, Thomas McGrael at 16 Washington, Francis O’Malley at 29 Winslow, Thomas O’Brien at 13 Main, Thomas, John and Patrick Riley at 181 Washington, Patrick and Charles Regan at 183 Washington, Martin Sweeney at 58 Detroit, and that is just a few from Ward 28 Precinct A. Precinct B is more of the same and Precinct C has 20 Gallaghers and a full page of Mc’s. Those are just the registered voters in 1893.
Site excavations have shown that Irishtown Bend was more economically diverse than the historical narrative suggests. However, it was not an easy life for the majority of the early Clevelanders, those 1800s Irish included. Many Irish lived in the Flats because it was close to work on the docks, eventually including neighborhoods on both sides of the river. The docks are hard work for today’s Longshoremen, Campbell will tell you. It is hard to image the life that was 150 years ago.
People needed support; they needed community. A pint and a shot can only go so far, regardless of how many saloons there are in the neighborhood. That is why we have parishes, ministries and Catholic Charities.
Today is no different. The resolve that St. Malachi’s had in the 1860s permeates its ministries in 2021. Last year the Malachi Run was cancelled, as was everything else. It didn’t prevent the collection of over 7,000 nonperishable donations and over $2,000 in cash donations. That helped but it could not replace the impact that the Malachi Run has had every year for the last 41 years.
One can review the list of participants in 2019 and you see the same names as in 1893, nine Gallaghers by my count. That is what makes this a special event for the city of Cleveland and the Irish community.
To some it is an annual reminder to the place and to the spirit of the Irish that made their way to Cleveland. To some it illustrates the value of the parish and the good works that are being done in our city every day. To some it is a day to have some fun and a pint for a great cause. It is why the Bluestone Hibernians are a proud sponsor.
This year the race is on September 18th; Mass is at 8am. I invite you all to look at stmalachichurchrun.org and find a way to participate, whether it be by running, walking or cheering. Raise a glass to Mike Carney at the top of Washington, and while you are in the old Ward 28, take a look around and feel the Irish of our past. Their contributions made the run a possibility. We got the easy part.
*Francis McGarry holds undergraduate degrees from Indiana University in Anthropology, Education and History and a Masters in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He is an assistant principal and history teacher. Francis is a past president of the Irish American Club East Side. He is the founder and past president of the Bluestone Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.