Donnybrook: Slán go Foill Judge Nancy McDonnell

Donnybrook: Slan go Foill Judge Nancy McDonnell 
By John Myers

The Greater Cleveland legal community and the Irish American community bade a fond and sad farewell to a proud daughter of Erin, Judge Nancy R. McDonnell.  Judge McDonnell was buried at Cleveland’s Calvary Cemetery last month. 

She died at the young age of 61, after a twenty-six year fight with Primary Pulmanary Hypertension (PPH). A rare and uniquely complicated disease, PPH typically claims the life of those diagnosed within a year or two of diagnosis. Nancy’s nearly three decade long fight with PPH was unprecedented.

The word “fight” is inadequate to convey the strength and courage she exibited day in and day out, as her health challenged her everyday life, necessitating a double lung transplant twelve years ago. And yet she never let the fight define her; she never complained, and always had a smile and a kind word for all. 

Nancy perferred to be defined as a devoted mom to her three kids: Helen, John & Jane, and as a loving wife to her husband, John Kosko.  In her memory, the family has asked all to consider signing up to be an organ donor.

John T. Corrigan
Following in the footsteps of her Da, Dan McDonnell, and her older brother Jim, Nancy was a consumate professsional in the legal world, serving as an Assistant County Prosecutor under the legendary John T. Corrigan, as a Magistrate in Lakewood Municipal Court and eventually being elected twenty-five years ago as a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge. 

At the Court,  Nancy was a natural leader and a trailblazer, elected by her peers, she served as the first woman Administrative and Presiding Judge in the Courts 200 of history.  She broke a long standing log jam to create Cuyahoga County’s Community Based Corrections Facility, now aptly named the “Nancy R. McDonnell CCBF”. 

Nancy R. McDonnell Community Based Corrections Facility
This facility allows non-violent offenders to serve their sentences in a low security enviroment with education and treatment programs.  At the time of the opening of the CCBF, Judge McDonnell stated, “Each life that is improved by this place will improve the life of that person’s family, and it will improve the entire community.”

Judge Nancy was proud to call Lakewood, Ohio home for over thirty years, but was equally proud to have grown up in Cleveland Heights as one of eight children of Dan and Jane McDonnell.  After graduating from St. Ann grade school and Regina High School Nancy went on to attend Catholic Univerity in our Nation’s Capitol and study law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. 

Nancy came from a family with great Irish pride and deep roots in the annual Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Her Da was a long standing member of the Irish Civic Association which was the sponsor of the parade in the 1930s, 40s & 50s.  

Irish Civic Association
The ICA was one of the original groups to create and found the United Irish Socities, which has now been the sponsor of the Cleveland parade for over sixty years. To honor this history, the ICA marches at the head of the Parade each year (in front of the horses…). 

As a woman with faith,  with unceasing dedication to family, as a consumate public servant and a respected and belove professional, Nancy McDonnell exemplifies much to be proud of in our Irish American Community. Safe home Nancy, Requiescat in Pace. 

An All Irish Affair
It is shaping up to be an all Irish Affair for the open Ohio U.S. Senate seat.  On the Democratic side, Mahoning Valley’s populist Congressman Rep. Tim Ryan is almost certain to be the Dem nominee.  On the Republic side,  State Sen. Mark Dolan and entrepernuer Mike Gibbons are two of the leading candidates to succed Rob Portman in 2022.  Make sure you check their stands on the Irish Peace process, a United Ireland and any future trade agreement with the Great Britain.  Should be a great Donnybrook of a race to watch next year.

Poll Topper
The old saying is that polls don’t vote, but still there is good news for Sinn Fein, Ireland’s oldest political party, from the Sunday Times/Behaviour & Attitudes Poll.  The most recent polls show Sinn Fein as the most popular political party in the Republic, with 1/3 of voters showing support. Sinn Fein leader, Mary Lou McDonald is shown as the most popular leader, with a 48% favorability rating.   Time will tell if Sinn Fein can hold on and/or build more support before the next general election.

Eire’s Top Golfers Play the Great Lakes
Four of Ireland’s top golfers played in this fall’s Ryder’s Cup in Whistling Straights, Wisconsin, at a dramatic and beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Padraig Harrington (Captain), Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Rory McElroy gave a distinctive Irish accent to Team Europe. 

The Ryders Cup, played every other year, pits the top European golfers against the top American golfers.  The format makes it one of most fun golf matches to watch and  very accessible to the average golf fan. 

Despite the strong Irish presence, the American team dominated, winning handily 19 to 9.   The traveling tournament moves to Italy in 2023, New York in 2025 and then to the Emerald Isle in 2027.  The historic and beautiful Adare Manor in County Limerick will host the 2027 classic.  

2021 Team Captain Padraig Harrington described Adare, “It’s second to none. A fantastic design, fantastic development, with the hotel and clubhouse. There’s nothing better.”  Make your travel plans now, its just a short twenty-five minute drive from Shannon Airport.      

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