Congratulations to the 2023 Irish Heritage Month
and St. Patrick’s Day Honorees
sent to us:
The Greater Cleveland United Irish Societies:
Grand Marshal: Michael F. Coyne
Michael, better known as Mickey, is the loving son of Michael Coyne from Co. Mayo and Loretta Sands Coyne from Co. Down. Mickey and his late sister, Mary Ellen Vana, had a traditional loving Irish upbringing, with faith and family first as parishioners of St. Aloysius Parish. Morning Mass followed with dinner, praying the Rosary and listening to Irish Music with their extended families of the Coyne’s, Reilly’s, Burke’s, and Talty’s was the typical Sunday for the Coyne’s.
They truly lived by the Irish motto: “Céad míle fáilte” (100 Thousand Welcomes) to all who came to their home, a trait Mickey instilled in his children and continues to live by today. Mickey is happiest when he can travel home to Mayo with kids Meghan, Kevin, Erin, Seamus, and Michael Patrick, thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Compassion carries over to Mickey’s professional life. He has been a Funeral Director for over fifty years with the McMahon-Coyne-Vitantonio Funeral Home. Serving families from multiple generations, he treats all with kindness, no matter their financial circumstances.
Many families from the Hospice of the Western Reserve are grateful to Mickey for graciously helping them through a difficult time. Mickey truly lives every day of faith and family first, as taught by his parents.
Mickey has led an active parish life, from his school days at Saint Aloysius to his current Immaculate Conception Parish. He is not one to just take space in a pew, through his leadership, parish festivals began, and many a lively Saint Patrick’s Day party were fun and successful under his guidance, all while being active in Civic Organizations as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring local Little League Teams, and volunteering with Youth Organizations.
Living out his dream of owning an ice cream shop, he brought ice cream back to Downtown Willoughby with the opening of Mickey’s Ice Cream and Hot Dog Shop, adding another spot for Mickey and others to meet and greet.
Never one to sit back and watch others work, Mickey became a charter member of the Irish American Club East Side and has served numerous terms as president over the years. He would be one of the first to greet a new member to the club with a warm hello, pleasure to meet you, with hand always extended in friendship. No job was too big or too small for Mickey around the IACES, from Pie Nights, arranging entertainment, or presenting unique ideas to keep the club growing strong.
Life for Mickey is not all work and no play, with his favorite day of all being St. Patrick’s Day since the days of his childhood. Always starting the day with Mass, a family gathering, and then off to the Parade. He fondly remembers jumping into the parade and crossing the finish line with his father marching as a Member of the Knights of Columbus.
As a member of the Irish American Archive Society, Mickey helps keep the rich history of the Irish community preserved. He knows his mom, dad and Mary Ellen will be proudly watching him as the 2023 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal, marching with Michelle and all his family beside him.
Mother of the Year: Bridget Conway
Bridget Campbell Conway is from Doona, Ballycroy, Co. Mayo. The eldest of eight children, she emigrated to the United States at the young age of seventeen, following the footsteps of many of her ancestors. She traveled from Cork with her cousin, Pete Campbell, and met Pat Kilroy on the boat over, becoming lifelong friends.
They arrived in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day. Bridget and Pete traveled by train to Cleveland, Ohio, to her Aunt Maggie and Uncle Mike McGowan, who sponsored them. Bridget worked as a nanny and would regularly send money home to her parents. During a trip home to Ireland with her cousin, Margaret Mary McGowan (Lally), she met Manus Conway, from Tallagh, at the Ballycroy Church dance.
It was a real ballroom romance story. They married and moved back to Cleveland and settled into St. Mel’s Parish. They had six children: Nora Margaret (deceased) Anne, Rose, Frank, Colleen and Keith. She also dearly loves her six grandchildren: Cailin, Aidan, Jamie, Jimmy, Bridget and Norah.
Bridget has many beautiful gifts, but the one most often thought of is her ability to bring laughter and joy into the lives of others. She cherishes all her family and friends; loves visiting and talking with everyone; having tea and spending time together. She is always visiting those who are sick or in need.
Since arriving in the United States, Bridget has been a member of the West Side Irish American Club. She has always enjoyed and supported events at the club, frequently selling tickets and bringing family and friends to events. Her daughters were active in the parade marching units, and Irish dancing. Bridget was also a member of the Hibernians for many years and was the Cleveland Hibernian of the Year in 1979.
She was one of the founding members of the Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland in 2004, along with President Gerry Quinn and many of her close Mayo friends. Bridget has been a very active board member, securing sponsorship for the Annual Ball, organizing bakery for the Mayo Tea and helping allocate the charitable funds to different charities. Bridget is very instrumental in keeping the organization tied to Ballycroy, Achill and Mayo.
One will frequently see Bridget enjoying dinner and events with her family and friends or reading the iIrish newsmagazine from cover to cover at PJ McIntyre’s Irish Pub. Patrick and Rebecca Campbell named the pub’s party room the “Bridgie Ned’s Party Room” in her honor. Bridget is and always has been involved in furthering and contributing to Irish Culture.
Inside Co-Chair: Maureen Cavanaugh
Maureen Cavanaugh has been a Hibernian most of her life. She comes from a family of Hibernians who have supported the organization and all of its activities for generations. Her mother, Joan Cavanaugh, was state president of the LAOH and an Irish Mother of the Year. Her dad Jim was a lifetime Hibernian and could always be counted on to attend the conventions and fundraisers.
Maureen graduated from Notre Dame Academy and Bowling Green State University. She has been a program developer and project manager at Regional Income Tax Agency for over thirty years.
With the LAOH, Maureen volunteers on committees and supports fundraisers. Her artistic talents are frequently lent to the decorations and centerpieces for conventions and important state meetings. Maureen is always on the spot to welcome guests and make everyone feel comfortable.
In any last-minute crises, she readily pitches in and does whatever is needed to make the event successful. You can always find Maureen working on the “Lucky Seven Drawing” at the annual Reverse Raffles, organizing the easy sale of tickets and encouraging people to buy for the sake of the Hibernians. She helps organize the Secret Santa gifts, food and donations for the charity of the day at the annual Christmas meetings.
In addition to the LAOH, the Murphy Irish Arts Association is a co-sponsor in nominating Maureen for this honor. She has been a member of the Murphy Irish Arts Center for forty-five years. She started as a young dancer and progressed to become a teacher and valuable member of the staff.
Maureen has competed in many world championships in solos & teams, representing Cleveland, Ohio and the USA. She is a certified Teacher of Irish Dance with An Coimisiun in Ireland. Maureen is a great coach and a real asset to young soloists & teams preparing for regional and international competitions.
She has marched in more than forty Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parades for the Murphy Irish Arts Center and served as a parade marshal for the United Irish Societies. As a teacher in the Mid- American region of Irish Dance, she represents Cleveland, Ohio as she manages the daily awards ceremonies and acts as a judge escort. Both jobs are time consuming and reflect the organization’s confidence in her integrity and trustworthiness.
Following in her family’s footsteps, she also works for the Association in the Irish Cultural Garden. Over the years, she has volunteered to help clean-up the Irish garden and help with its fundraisers. She is one of the key people in making the Irish Garden successful on One World Day every August. Maureen organizes the entry in the Parade of Nations and the display booths, as well as the performances in the garden.
Maureen is steady, hardworking and offers great suggestions. She lives the Hibernian motto and the Murphy Irish Arts Association’s mission statement.
Outside Co-Chair: Kevin McDonough
Kevin is the son of John and Mary Jane (McGilly) McDonough. He attended St. Ignatius and Fairview High School and continued his education at Dyke College. Kevin has been married to his wife Linda for thirty-eight years and together raised her two children, Kevin and Heather O’Malley.
As a teenager, Kevin discovered his desire for cooking, with the help and expertise of his mother. This passion led Kevin to open McDonough’s Cafe in Lakewood from 1975 to 1980. He then began working with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department as a Corrections Officer, but his love of cooking led him to the Jail’s kitchen, which he ran for seven years, feeding 2,000 inmates three meals each day. Kevin was promoted to Warden in 2001 and retired from the department in 2010, after thirty years of service.
No stranger to hard work, Kevin’s retirement was short lived as he was recruited to be the Lead Resident Supervisor at the Judge Nancy R. McDonnell Community Correctional facility, a program sponsored by Oriana House, a renowned national organization for drug and alcohol treatment and community corrections.
Kevin’s knack for bringing people together with food was soon recognized by the West Side Irish American Club. His volunteer chef duties began when he was asked by Helen Malloy to lead a group of volunteers in preparing a Ham and Cabbage Dinner.
This event was the beginning of McDonough’s Brigade, a group of dedicated volunteers working with Kevin every Friday for many years, preparing and serving Pub Grub. Kevin plans, orders the food and cooks for the Club’s Steak Roast, Pig Roast, and special events sponsored by the club. Kevin is very proud of the many delicious meals prepared and served by his Brigade, all while having FUN.
Organization is one of Kevin’s attributes added to Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival’s success as the Food Service Coordinator and Stage Emcee. He recruited and oversaw the Food Vendors. The festival was a non-profit, annual civic event, benefiting local and national charities and highlighting the many aspects of our Irish culture.
All through the extensive grounds, you would find numerous exhibits and displays, world class performers on nine stages, a vast collection of goods from the finest vendors in the country, and over 300 volunteers that combined to continue this legacy of love for the Irish and their heritage. The festival took a hiatus for a few years but based on the assistance of Kevin and diligent volunteers, Cleveland Irish Festival returns July 14-16, 2023.
Not one to sit idly by, waiting for the festival to return, Kevin working alongside his brother Joe, preparing comfort food at Gunselman’s Tavern. Comfort is the Heart of Gunselman’s, a welcoming neighborhood establishment in Fairview Park, where the food, atmosphere, and staff are fantastic, and an Irish tune playing in the background. Serving only the best to their guest, Gunselman’s has won Cleveland’s Best Burger Contest, not once, but twice.
Kevin has a heart bigger than any kitchen he has worked in, as recognized with his involvement with the Ziggy’s Friends Rescue. This is a not-for-profit group helping local pets find there forever home. Working with Paul Baker of Brigid’s Cross, the two have facilitated fundraisers to continue the work of this wonderful organization.
Work is not just a four-letter word to Kevin, but an activity intrinsic to him. He is entering his twenty-ninth year as a Board of Trustee Member of the West side Irish American Club; serving twenty-four of those years as the club’s Vice President.
He never has to be asked twice to belt out a Happy Birthday on meeting nights or sing a solo with the entertainers on stage. Kevin will always give his all; all of the Time.
West Side Irish American Club (WSIA)
Queen: Catherine Egan
Catherine Egan is the daughter of Tom and Eileen (nee Quinn) Egan and the proud granddaughter of Tom (deceased) and Kathleen (nee Murphy) Egan, and Owen (deceased) and Annie (nee Lynch) Quinn. Catherine has three siblings, Owen, Seamus, and Clare, who have all been a part of the WSIA community for their entire lives. Catherine’s ancestral ties are to Co. Mayo through her paternal grandfather, Co. Kerry through her paternal Grandmother, and Co. Cavan through both her maternal grandparents.
She has been a member of the WSIA her whole life; at the age of four, she joined the Little Bridgies marching squad, working her way through the Majorettes, Flag Corp, and Pom-Pom Squad. Rising through the ranks, Catherine enjoyed spending her Sundays at the club and was always excited to come back for next year’s parade. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she also Irish danced for eight years at both Burke and Brady-Campbell Schools of Irish Dance.
Catherine attended elementary school at St. Mary of the Falls and high school at St. Joseph Academy, graduating in May of 2020. While at SJA, Catherine received three Varsity letters in rowing and graduated with Honors. She also was a member of the National Honors Society and volunteered during the school week as a tutor for fellow SJA students.
Duquesne University in Pittsburgh recruited Catherine to row; she is currently in her third of six years, pursuing both a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Catherine has received Athletic Honors both first and second year, and she is working to have the same outcome for third year as well. She also spends her days volunteering to help the ticket booth at university basketball games and donates canned goods and necessities to those in need through Duquesne University’s many outreach programs.
When she is not at school or working, Catherine comes to the WSIA on Mondays or Tuesdays to help her grandparents clean the club and will attend Friday night cards, playing 25 with her grandmother on occasion. They are currently members of Mary Queen of Peace in Cleveland.
In her court, Catherine has chosen her sister Clare Egan and her friend Faith Donnelly, both of whom have helped her experience life and growth in her Irish heritage.
Woman of the Year: Katherine (Kay) Hough
Kay was the first born to James and Ursula (McGuire) Lynch. She has three siblings, Bill (deceased), the Rev. James and Michael. Kay grew up on the east side of Cleveland and attended Holy Name grade school.
Her family moved to Berea, and she then attended St. Mary’s school. Kay’s family relocated to the West 65tharea of Cleveland, where she returned and graduated from Holy Name High School.
In 1964, she met Cleveland Firefighter and the love of her life, James Patrick Hough. They were married in 1966 at St. Colman Church. Kay and Jim were blessed with four wonderful children, Mary, Patrick (Katie Harkness), Sheila (Patrick Cooney) and Maureen. Kay is a very proud grandmother to Moria, Seamus, Meghan, Mary Clare, and Shannon Hough, Jimmy, Paddy and Maggie Cooney.
After graduating from High School, Kay was employed by Cuyahoga County Probate Court. Once the children were of school age, she went to work for the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Kay also worked part time for Marianne Kinkopf at the Irish Cottage.
Upon retiring from the County, she joined the Casey family at Casey’s Irish Imports and was employed there for about fifteen years. She enjoyed every workday. Kay also volunteered at St. Patrick’s West Park CCD program for many years.
Kay and Jim joined the I-A at the Madison Avenue location. When the club moved to Olmsted Township, Kay served on the board as treasure for ten years. Kay chaired the first New Year’s Eve dinner/dance at the new facility.
Kay was honored to work with her dearest friend Kay Forrey in creating “The Ladies Only Reverse Raffle,” which they chaired for fourteen years. Kay was instrumental in creating the Trim-A-Tree Party; members participated in decorating for the holidays, but she also had them bring a gift to share with needy children in the Cleveland area. Kay volunteered at Cleveland Irish Festival and is a proud member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Our Lady of the Rosary Division.
Man of the Year: John Lackey
John Patrick Lackey was born and raised outside Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, Ireland. In 1955, he came to the United States with his dad, Patrick (Mother Elizabeth passed away in 1945), where he joined his brother and five sisters. John joined the United States Army, first stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then at Fort Eustis, Virginia, where he served as a Locomotive Engineer.
Shortly after arriving in Cleveland, John joined the West Side Irish American Club and marched with the Fife and Drums in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for many years. He is also part of the famous Tuesday maintenance group at the club and has been elected as trustee for many years.
John was an Associate Director of Cleveland Cultural Festival and has been a Delegate to the St. Patrick’s Day Committee since the mid-1980s. He joined the Pioneers Total Abstinence Association in 1957 and served as a council member and treasurer; he is currently the president.
A St. Patrick’s Gaelic Football Club member and vice president of the Greater Cleveland Feis Society, John worked in the grocery industry for many years and retired from the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Courts.
John and his wife of fifty-six+ years, Eileen, reside in Rocky River and have three children, Sean (Michelle), Maureen (Bob), and Sheila (Paul); they are the proud grandparents of six grandsons, and are members of St. Christopher’s Parish, where John has been an usher for many years.
Volunteer of the Year: Pat Malloy
Pat is the son of Margaret Ann and Daniel Aloysius Malloy (both deceased). He has five siblings, Margie (deceased), Danny, Barbara, Kathleen, and Michael. He attended St. Jerome’s grade school and Collinwood High School in Cleveland. In 1971, he began working for Sullivan Construction, where he started learning the trades.
In 1972, Pat and his first wife were married, and he began a new career at Lincoln Electric as a machine technician. They have two sons, Patrick Michael, and Brian Scott.
Pat was very involved with coaching CYO wrestling for five years with his children and helped wherever needed throughout their high school years. After thirty years of marriage, Pat and Michelle separated. Two years later, he met Mary Ann Paoplucci and married his “Pretty Italian Lady.” Together they have six children and ten grandchildren.
Pat retired from Lincoln Electric in 2015 but wanted to stay busy with all the extra time on his hands. He saw that the Berea Fairgrounds was getting ready for Cleveland Irish Festival, so he went out and met with John O’Brien, Jr. who put him to work right away. He met so many friendly people who were also part of the West Side Irish American Club; that was Pat’s first experience of the “WSIA Family.”
Pat became a member that year and began his volunteer work, jumping in with both feet and never looking back. Pat’s first volunteer job was painting the gazebo. He also helped with the stonework around the pillars of the main hall.
You can see Pat in autumn and winter months cleaning the grounds of leaves and snow and working in and around the garage with Jack Flynn. His most recent project was removing fallen trees from around the lake and making way for a walking path.
Shamrock Club of ColumbusWoman of the Year: Mary Grady Strickland
Parade Marshal: Patrick W. Byrne
Members of the Year: Colleen Collins, John Collins, Kira Collins and Tracee Collins
Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Grand Marshal: Ray Werner
Ray is a founding member of the band Hooley; a board member of Brother Ondrey’s Café, which employs exceptional adults; a board member of the Red Door, that services the homeless; a songwriter (two of which were recorded by the legend James Patterson); and a play write.
His musical, Shantytown, the Father Cox Story from Old Saint Patrick’s Church, opens the evening of the parade. He has written fourteen plays.
Ray is retired from the advertising industry; his slogan “You have a Friend in Pennsylvania,” won numerous advertising awards. He was inducted into the Pittsburgh Ad Federation Hall of Fame in 2002. Ray and Susan have four children and seven grandchildren.
Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland
Man of the Year: Mike Gibbons
Michael is founder of Brown Gibbons Lang & Company. Michael provides an active senior role to client engagements and business development opportunities. Immediately prior to forming BGL, Michael was president and CEO of Underwood, Neuhaus & Company, a leading regional securities and investment banking firm in Houston, Texas. While with this firm, he also held positions as executive vice president, head of capital markets and manager of corporate finance. Before joining Underwood, Michael was a senior vice president and served on the operating management committee of McDonald & Company Securities, Inc., in Cleveland, Ohio.
Brown Gibbons Lang & Company is a leading independent investment bank serving the middle market. BGL specializes in mergers & acquisitions advisory services, debt & equity placements, financial restructuring advice, and valuations & financial opinions, with global industry teams in business services, consumer, healthcare, industrials, and real estate. BGL has offices in Chicago and Cleveland and Global M&A Partner offices in more than forty countries across five continents
Mike serves on the board of directors, is chairman of the audit committee and member of the compensation committee for Preformed Line Products (PLPC), Cleveland, Ohio; on the Northeast Ohio advisory board for U.S. Bank Corp., Minneapolis, Minnesota; on the board of trustees for Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland, Ohio; on the visiting committee for Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management, Cleveland, Ohio; serves on the board of visitors committee for the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law; serves on the board of directors for Values-in- Action/Project Love, Cleveland, OH; chairman of the board of directors for Global M&A Partners Ltd., Dublin, Ireland; is past chairman, serves as director and on the executive committee for Global M&A Partners, Dublin, Ireland.
He has a B.A., cum laude, Kenyon College; M.S., Management, Case Western Reserve University; J.D., Cleveland State University.
Irish American Club East Side (IACES )
Member of the Year: Jack Murphy
John Joseph Ambrose Murphy was born in September 1952. He is third of six children born to John and Mary Jane Murphy (Michael, Mary, Patrick, Helen and Bridget). They lived on East 172nd Street. Jack was baptized at St. Joseph’s Collinwood.
The family moved to East 211th Street in Euclid in 1955. Jack was a Holy Cross Falcon and then a Viking at St. Joseph High School, graduating in 1970. After graduation, Jack entered the work force, following his dad and older brother into Pressure Castings factory, where Jack worked for a few years until the opportunity arose for him to become a deckhand on an Iron Ore boat that traveled the Great Lakes.
Jack was “off” during the winter months and was able to hone his bartending skills at assorted watering holes in the area, including The Irish American Club Est Side. After painstakingly saving his money, Jack purchased Tradewinds Lounge in 1983.
Jack has been an active member of the Irish American Club East Side since its’ inception; he is charter member #131. He has supported the club throughout the years; advertising monthly in the Schanachie as a corporate sponsor. He supports all of the events the Club hosts. He has always been willing to donate to any type of raffle and has been known to win “a few.”
Jack also sponsored several Thirsty Thursdays and is famous for riding his bike every Thursday from East 200th St. to the Club for those Thirsty Thursdays. One of his favorite things to do here at the club is serve up the carrots at the annual corned beef and cabbage dinner. He is known for his catch phrase of “just plain #” at many of our reverse raffles he has called for the club.
For the past twenty-five years, Jack has made a home and shared his life with Pamela Anderson. He is the favorite uncle to ten nieces and nephews, even though there are countless other people who affectionately call him “Uncle Jack.” His contagious laugh and generous heart have the true Irish Spirit.
Dublin, Ohio St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Grand Leprechaun: Deb Papesh
In recognition of her generosity and continuous efforts supporting numerous Dublin-based organizations and schools over the years, Deb Papesh will lead the City of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 11.
Papesh moved to Dublin in 1995 with her husband Brian and has been very involved in the community ever since. Daughters Dr. Ashley Papesh, Place of Legacy Family Dental, and Katie Papesh, 4th grade Hopewell Elementary teacher are both graduates of Dublin Scioto High School. Deb and Brian are also proud grandparents of four-year-old Jaxon and eighteen-month-old Mason.
Papesh is committed to supporting Dublin City Schools and ensuring food security in the community. Her efforts are currently focused on supporting the Dublin Food Pantry’s Capital Campaign and starting the endowment process for the Dublin Education Foundation. Deb was inducted into the DCS Hall of Fame with the “Outstanding Service Award” in 2020 and was the Dublin Women’s Philanthropic Club Gala Honoree in 2022.
She has supported the development of the first OCLC School Partnership to match company tutors with Riverside Students. In addition, she has sat on multiple district-level committees, including Strategic Planning and levy teams. Deb and her husband Brian continue to support the Ohio Stadium Cake Scholarship endowment fund, which awarded $15,000 in scholarships in Fall 2022.
“Dublin has been an incredible community to call home and I am honored to be chosen as the 2023 Grand Leprechaun! I support the accomplishments of past, present and future community members with me on March 11 in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” she said.
Daughters of Erin (Central Ohio)
Woman of the Year: Nancy Longenbaker
Member of the Year: Margie Toner Thompson
Ancient Order of Hibernians Lucas County
Hibernian of the Year: Monsignor Chris Vasco
Monsignor Chris Vasko is pastor of St. Patrick’s Historic Church in Toledo.
He is also the chaplain of both the Lucas County AOH & LAOH divisions.
Ancient Order of Hibernians Columbus Patrick Pearse Division 1
Hibernian of the Year: Michael Cosgrove
Commodore Barry Medal: Scott Partika
Ancient Order of Hibernians Carnegie, PA
Man of the Year: Tim Murphy
Tim is a two-term vice president and two-term president of Sean McBride Division 32 Carnegie Pa. He is currently the treasurer of the Allegheny County Board and is the lead for the August golf outing, used to fund many division charities.
Tim is the Organizer West and involved in many events, running the Fish Fry, and was involved in the National Convention in Pittsburgh in 2022.
Ancient Order of Hibernians Greater Cleveland
Man of the Year: John Myers
John Myers is the youngest of six children, born to Bob Myers and Maryanne (Havey) Myers in Lakewood, Ohio. Although generations removed from his immigrant Irish ancestors, the gifts of Irish heritage and Catholic faith were core principles of his family. John has lived in the Westshore area most of his life, attending St. Christopher grade school, Rocky River High School, Miami University, and Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Early involvement as an altar boy, Scout and in the CYO helped internalize that faith, family, service, and country were central to any life of purpose.
John and his wife, Mary Eileen Kilbane (Judge, 8th District Court of Appeals), live in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood, where they raised their two daughters: Therese (Tess) and Joanna (Jo). Both daughters attended Magnificat High School, where John was active in the Father’s Club. The girls studied dance at Inis Acla School of Irish Dance and joined the West Side Irish American Jr. Fife Corp., marching in the St. Patrick’s Parade.
While proud of his Irish heritage through his Havey, Myers, O’Connor, White, Riley, McCarthy, Menton and Maloney families, a misty consciousness of an Irish identity turned to a strong pull while living in Dublin during college and hitch hiking throughout the Emerald Island. Spending many a Tuesday night with the Wolfetones at the Wexford Inn helped shape a thought or two as well.
This was shortly after the period of the hunger strikes and it became clear that the tragedy of the English/Irish relationship was more than something out of the mist of history; in fact, there was an ongoing, systematic British drive to deprive the Irish of their fundamental rights. The ongoing deprivation of human and civil rights; the use of torture, murder and state sponsored violence stunned one’s fundamental sensibilities.
How could England, the home of the mother of Parliaments, England, that both John’s grandfathers had fought to preserve in WWI; England, that John’s father was awarded three Bronze Stars at the Battle of the Bulge to protect, could so willfully have their hands stained with the blood and misery of the Irish people?
Out of Law School, John went on to many years of public service with the Lakewood Prosecutor, Public Defender, Cleveland Law Department and Cuyahoga County. He also worked over a decade in the law offices of former Congressman Robert Emmett Sweeney, a renowned trial attorney and a lifelong advocate for the cause of Irish Freedom.
John has been active in local, state and national politics; tying in the Irish issue only seemed natural, and eventually led to being a national board member of the Irish American Democrats PAC to help advance “The Cause” of Eire. Working with fellow Irish Americans, John was very active in the McBride Principle’s Campaign for Fair Employment, helping raise awareness of the severe employment discrimination in the Six Counties: organizing, demonstrating, writing legislation and testifying before fact finding committees.
Many of the McBride advocates were members of Irish Northern Aid, The AOH and the LAOH; they shared their history and commitment to these vital organizations (as well as good music and the craic). John was most happy to join them.
James Coleman McCoy (Ohio Irish Bulletin) presented John with a plaque honoring his involvement in “The Cause.” This involvement has led to sitting in the Roosevelt Room at the Whitehouse with Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith and members of the National Security Team in the times leading up to the Good Friday Accord (GFA), advocates working little by little around the U.K. “Special Relationship” to internationalize the issues in the Six Counties.
Along the way, these included attending the raucous Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Dublin when Ireland’s oldest political party voted to accept the GFA and witness the parole of the Balcom Street Four; facilitating ‘Irish Planks’ in the DNC Platforms; encouraging business development in Ireland through the Cleveland Council on World Affairs; assisting the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Mayo County Council and the Atlantic Corridor USA’s efforts to attract business investment; initiating the secondarily naming of East 22nd Street in honor of Irish immigrant and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Sr. Ignatia Gavin Way; helping raise funds for and siting of the Irish Hunger (Famine) Memorial in the Flats; being selected as United Irish Societies Co-Chair of the 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Parade; traveling with the official delegation to Ireland for the “Twinning” of Achill/Co. Mayo; advocating for direct Aer Lingus flights to Cleveland; Co-authoring “Irish Cleveland,” a short history of the Irish in Cleveland; columnist for iIrish newsmagazine; co-anchoring TV20’s parade coverage; United Irish Society Delegate; Chairing a annual Irish Good Fellows Luncheon; organizing several Irish Film Festivals, and serving as a long time board member of the Irish American Archives Society.
John currently is a member of the AOH Boland-Berry Division, where he is the Freedom for All Ireland Chair, and serves as a State Director for the Ohio State Board of the AOH and as State Immigration chair, pushing and advocating for a fair and comprehensive immigration reform legislation, conscious of our common immigrant roots.
Ancient Order of Hibernians Allegheny County, PA.
Hibernian of the Year: Tim Regan
Person of the Year: Patrick T. Murphy
Please read our iIrish Person of the Year story
(pages 9 thru 12), or by clicking HERE: