Francis McGarry
Francis McGarry
Columnist: Cleveland Irish

Meet Francis McGarry: Irish Roots and Stories

Francis is a serious storyteller, not in tone, his writing is filled with funny references, but in a scholarly way, backed by research, academic accomplishments, and the best teacher of all, a purpose driven life.  That life purpose promised to uncover the depths of his Irish roots and his connection to the Irish community in Cleveland, and has.

Francis was raised on the east side of Cleveland, a proud Irish Catholic, where his roots run deep. He proudly listed the various parishes that held significance in his family’s history, from Saint Philip Neary to Saints Thomas Aquinas, Aloysius, Philomena, Christ the King, Saint Joe County, and Margaret Mary’s, to name just a few. Those citations are a testament to the strong Irish presence in the city and the enduring impact of them and his heritage.Francis’ voice carries the weight of years of history and tradition.

Then the conversation shifted towards Francis’s connection with iIrish, a publication that has become an integral part of his life for the past decade. He and John O’Brien have a tradition of going out to lunch together regularly for more than a decade, forging a bond over their shared love for Irish culture and history, being Hibernians, and all the benefits of having a pint together with friends.

He further talked about his column for iIrish, titled “Cleveland Irish,” and what inspires him to focus his writing on this particular theme. This echoed his deep sense of duty towards preserving the historical narrative of the Irish in Cleveland.

Francis believes that there is a vast trove of untold stories and unexplored aspects of Irish influence in the city, spanning from its earliest settlers to the most recent arrivals. His dedication to shedding light on this history is evident in his words and his columns.

Sunday Funday
When talking about his favorite stories from his time writing for iIrish, Francis shared an anecdote that spoke volumes about the resilience and resourcefulness of the Irish community. He recounted an incident from the 1880s, when Ohio implemented a liquor ban on Sunday serving. An enterprising Irishman decided to place a keg of beer on his sidewalk on a Sunday, creating the city’s first “Sunday fun day.” While he did receive a summons, his Irish lawyer successfully negotiated with an Irish judge, resolving the matter in a very Irish fashion.

Outside of his writing for iIrish, Francis works as a librarian at the Cleveland Heights University Heights libraries. His profession seems like a natural extension of his love for history and knowledge, where he continues to immerse himself in the world of books and information.

Francis’s commitment to preserving and celebrating Irish heritage in Cleveland, through his writing, his daily life as a librarian and his involvement in community and Irish organizations, is a testament to his unwavering pride in his roots our community. His stories and insights continue to enrich the pages of iIrish, ensuring that the history and the traditions of the Irish in Cleveland remain alive for generations to come.