High Holy Day; Cleveland Irish


Cleveland Irish: High Holy Day
by Francis McGarry

Margaret Farley was born in the city of Dublin, Ireland on March 17th, 1877 to Eugene Farley and Margaret MacDonald. Margaret McGarry was born on August 28th, 1879 in Killashee, Longford to Thomas McGarry and Jane McNally. Thomas was born on December 22nd, 1844 in Kibride Parish, Roscommon. Jane was born on April 16th, 1846 in Drum, Roscommon.  Margaret McGarry’s brother James was born May 12th, 1875 in Castrons, Longford. 

James married Margaret Farley and immigrated with their twins James and Joseph to Warren, PA. in 1904.  Thomas McGarry and Jane McNally McGarry arrived in Warren in 1903, Jane had family there.  They settled down the street from St. Joseph’s Church.  It was there that William, Margaret, John Francis, Mary, Eugene and Jane were born to Margaret and James. 

Uncle Patrick, Thomas’s brother, settled in Cleveland at the same time.  He married Delia Lawless in Cleveland.   Their daughter Kathleen was married at St. Philomena’s in East Cleveland in 1946.  Her children are DiJulius’s, not related to Sticks. 

John Francis is my grandfather.  He finished school after the 10th grade and made his way to Cleveland.  JF worked in a grocery store until he received his real estate license.  Grace and JF were married on October 26th, 1940 at St. Philip Neri. 

Grace graduated from John Hay, across the street from where Cathedral Latin once stood.  They bought a four apartment complex across the street from St. Joe Collinwood.  JF was known to have a pint at the Bucket of Blood with Mr. Murphy, at least until they moved up the hill to the Heights in 1951. 

Me Ma and uncle Dennis went to St. Margaret Mary’s, then Ma to Regina, Notre Dame College, the University of Notre Dame and Purdue. Dennis went to St. Joe’s, Case Western Reserve and Kent State; he was a card player.

Margaret Farley McGarry passed away on September 25th, 1939 in Warren, PA.  James followed her on November 23rd, 1943, still working at the oil refinery.  Jane McNally McGarry passed away on October 7th, 1909 in Warren, PA.  Thomas McGarry returned to Ireland to live with his children, who never left and passed away in 1917. 

JF passed away on April 13th, 1976; his service was at St. Margaret Mary’s.  The DiJulius’s hosted his after funeral dinner at St. Greg’s.  Grace passed away on June 26th, 2004 and her service was also at St. Margaret Mary’s.  We had the wake at Denison Park, not the first drinks consumed in that parking lot.

My grandparents are entombed next to each other at All Souls Cemetery.  Each year as the High Holy Day approaches, we travel to All Souls to have a drink with JF and Grace, as well as dram with all the McGarry’s buried there.  We have learned that a pint ain’t gonna get it done. 

The First St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The Irish have been observing the feast day of St. Patrick for centuries.  History tells us that the first parade was held on March 17th, 1601 in Spanish Florida.  Today the site of that parade is the city of St. Augustine. 

There have been many feast days and parades in the years since then, 420 years of parades.  Some years didn’t have parades like Cleveland in 1862-1865, 1917-18, 1942-1945, and now.  I am not aware of any of the feast days being cancelled, but what do I know? 

It was St. Augustine who said, “Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundation of humility.  The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.” 

When I place myself in relationship to those in the McGarry family tree and stand amongst them at All Soul’s, I do not initially think of public celebrations.  I think of humility and my small place in that family tree.  There is a sentiment that I succumb to that internally vocalizes the need to continue to search for those who came before the names and dates known.  Who were the McGarry’s deeper in the foundation?  How do I honor them?

Begin by Being, More Irish
St. Augustine states the we must “begin by being.”  We venerate those who share our Irish blood by being Irish. As an author I know says, “Be more Irish.” 

If we begin by knowing the names and the dates of those who came before us, because of the depth of our foundations, we can build our family structures and our community structures even higher.  If we begin there, we start to understand the greatness of all of the trees with all of the families that are the Irish Diaspora, that are the Cleveland Irish.  Then, when we continue our being by joining Irish and Irish American organizations; we start to be Irish a bit more. 

Perhaps then, we begin to understand why the Irish march down the streets of American cities every year.  It is about being and honoring those who marched before us.  When I am at the cemetery, I think of McGarry’s and how I wish I knew each one of them that passed away before my time. 

The shared whiskey is a way of acknowledging that, yet it seems to express a limited sense of being.  To honor them as such feels small considering their contribution to those holding the bottle, including my sister, Margaret McGarry.   

The “foundation of humility” demands a much greater expression of collective appreciation not focused on me being, but on we being.  Mass on the Feast Day of St. Patrick is the perfect example of that humble appreciation. 

It is a prayer for those dearly departed and a prayer for those in our lives, our Irish lives.  It never hurts to finish that with a McGarry singing.

At that point of the feast day of St. Patrick, our gathering manifests as a public celebration.  Truth be told, it just feels right.  It feels right because its scale is sufficiently grandiose to honor Margaret Farley; Margaret McGarry, sister of James; Margaret McGarry, sister of John Francis; and Maggie, sister of me.  It feels right because it is preceded by the cemetery and Mass. 

It feels right because the children of the Irish Diaspora are all being Irish, expressing our communal humility.  May we all be more Irish, until we get to march again.   

*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 and founder and past president of the Bluestone Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. 


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