CURRENT ISSUE:  OCTOBER 2023

Donnybrook: Irishtown Bend Enters New Age

The Irishtown Bend Park project reached a new milestone in October, with approval of the final conceptual plan at a joint meeting of the Cleveland Planning Commission, Landmarks Commission, and local Design Review for the Ohio City Neighborhood. Commission member Councilman Charlie Slife (Ward 17/Westpark) voiced his strong support with the reminder that the detailed plan must lead with the story of the Irish community, who called this place home as the vehicle to tell the larger story of immigration and migration to the shores of the Cuyahoga River.

Before it was a park project, it was the Irishtown Bend hill ‘stabilization’ project. Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne stated the importance of this first phase: “Shipping, business, and navigation does not happen if this slope is not stabilized.” 

It was jobs that brought the first Europeans to Cleveland and this stabilization project will protect thousands of shipping, steel and manufacturing jobs. Two centuries of tearing up the hillside to widen the river and for canals, railroads, docks, businesses, and housing left Irishtown Bend in danger of land sliding into the river, shutting the vital commercial artery.

Sixty million dollars in Federal funding was secured for the Cleveland Cuyahoga Port Authority with the critical assistance of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. Sen. Brown shared at the groundbreaking that “Irishtown Bend is a historic site, and we are going to make it bigger and better.”  Mayor Bibb, City Council President Blaine Griffin and Ward 3 councilman Kerry McCormack voiced their strong support at the groundbreaking in August.

Irishtown Bend overview credit: Land Studios

The stabilization project will take almost two years to complete. Once the basic hillside has been stabilized with new river bulk heads, removal of tons of dirt and the creation of multi-tiered levels, work on the 40 million dollar plus park can begin.

Design elements include an Irish Heritage Site, an archeological dig view, picnic site, an event lawn, walking trails, a waterfront promenade, bike paths, an interpretive site relating to the near presence of an Underground Railroad stop and Cleveland’s history as Station Hope.

The park will be large, approximately 23 acres, located between W. 25th (old Pearl St.), the river, and bounded on the north by The Veterans Memorial (Detroit/Superior) Bridge and on the south by the Columbus Road lift Bridge near Hooples. The Park will connect with the new Red Line Greenway trail, which takes you out to Zone Recreation Center across from St. Coleman’s Church (W. 65th) and will be part of the Canal Ways Towpath trail.

Irishtown Bend will be the final link connecting Lake Erie with the southern end of the Trail, 101 miles away, in Zoar, Ohio. Planning for this park will be designed with the knowledge that it will serve not only as a neighborhood park, but remarkable enough to be a regional asset as well. 
The park will fill a need to better link the Flats, Ohio City and Downtown. One can see work started with the demolition of several buildings along W. 25th, unveiling, brick by brick, the exciting new vista of downtown Cleveland and the Cuyahoga River.

Presentations of the plan were shared at the Irish American East Side last month and will be laid out at the West Side Irish American Club in November. Cleveland is blessed to have twin waterfronts. Cuyahoga Executive Chris Ronayne asked us to “love the River” as he reminded us that “this is the place that has bound us together over all these years: our Cuyahoga River and our Great Lake Erie. Let’s use this new park to continue to celebrate our home as the Fresh Water capital of the World.” 

Irishtown Bend overview: Credit Land Studios

McSport 

Wow, those of you who watched the Ohio State v. Notre Dame football game were treated to a thriller. The game went down to the last second on the one-yard line. The underdog Fighting Irish took it to the Buckeyes, leading throughout the game.

But at the end of the day, lost a razor close game 17 to 14. The Fighting Irish won big early in the season against Navy, played at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Notre Dame won the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, 42-3 and a good time was had by all.

America is Ryderless

The American golfers took it on the chin in the 2023 Ryder Cup, played this fall at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club outside Rome, Italy. Irish golfers Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowrey led a dominant European Team that outshined the American team from beginning to end, final scoring 16.5 to 11.5.

The Americans will be looking to pay the Euro’s back in two years when the game will be played on home turf at Beth Page State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y. The return to Europe in 2027 will be played in Eire at the beautiful Adare Manor in County Limerick. Start planning your trip now.

Electoral College Challenge

At a recent party gathering, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald stated the theme of the likely Dail elections next year.  “This is a time of generational change right across Ireland, we face into one of the most important periods in the history of Irish politics. We are on our mark for a general election that could happen at any time for local, European and Dail elections in June and a Westminster election that will follow shortly thereafter. These elections present us with an unprecedented opportunity to advance republican politics that puts workers, families and communities first, to expand the exciting conversation about uniting our Country.

“I am very pleased that An Taoiseach has finally acknowledged that we are, in fact, on the road to reunification. So, I call on him again to begin now the planning and the preparations for the democratic and peaceful, constitutional change by urgently establishing a citizen’s assembly on Irish Unity. I believe this is the generation that will end partition, bring all of our people in common purpose and finish the journey to full Nationhood.  … At a time when people are crying out for real change the public appetite for fresh politics and for an energetic, modern leadership is growing every single day. …Our people, North and South, want a new era in which government makes politics work for everyone. To seize with ambition, the immense opportunities for Ireland over the next decade. In the South, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail stand against that tide of positive progressive change sweeping across Ireland.

“They have shown that they are not up to the task of improving the everyday lives of ordinary people, not up to the job of building a better future. And there is one certainty, the longer Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are in government, the worse things will get. They are out of touch, out of ideas, and increasingly out of time.  … This is why we need a general election.” 

Find this and other Donnybrook Columns here!

John Myers

John Myers

*John is an attorney in Cleveland. He can be reached at [email protected]

Flora and Son

Flora and Son Music in key. “Flora and Sun” was released last month to a sunny welcome. This movie, set-in present-day Dublin, tells the story of a single mother and her teenage son. The film was directed by Irish film director John Carney. A feel-good movie with some vulgar language in parts, has Eve Hewson as the leading actor; she is the daughter of U2’s Bono. She does a heartfelt job in this role.

Last year she did a great job in the streaming, Irish based tv series, “Bad Sisters,” check this out too, an appealing comedy about murder. Flora and Son has music at its core, many reviewers have compared it to “Once.” Apple TV sponsored a viewing at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the Cleveland Cinema group arranged to make tickets available for this preview. Well worth seeing at the Theatre or on your streaming platforms.

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