Madigan Muses: Welcome Back!

By Marilyn Madigan

As a member of the Irish American Community of Cleveland, I am so happy to see the return of the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival on the weekend of July 14-16, 2023. It has been three long years since w have gathered at one of the best Irish Festivals in Northern Ohio. The dream of an Irish Festival in Cleveland was made possible by a great man, John O’Brien, and the dream continues thanks to his son in law, Phil Parent

I was proud to be a volunteer at the first Festival in 1983 at the German Grounds. The first Festival was a success thanks to John O’Brien, his family and a group of friends that were committed to share our rich Irish Heritage. I had the privilege of working with this group as a volunteer for many years.

Due to the success of the early years, the German Grounds were too small, and a new home was found at the Berea Fairgrounds. Attendance continued to grow and many came from neighboring states to participate in a wonderful Cultural Festival.

Unfortunately the pandemic caused the Festival to have to take a break for the past three years. Please welcome back this wonderful Cleveland tradition and honor the many committee members and volunteers that have passed on.

There are too many to name. Thanks to their hard work, our community has benefitted by more than $770,00 in donations made to local charities.

Since 1983, many local, national and international musical groups have performed. What a treasure to be able to hear Liam Clancy, Tommy Makem, Mick Moloney and so many more giants in the Irish music world. Cherish the Ladies, Eileen Ivers and Liz Carrol, who share their talent in workshops with young Cleveland musicians, and our local musicians Brigid’s Cross, Marys Lane and the New Barleycorn’s banter and skill have been discovered and now travel to other festivals.  

What is a festival without Irish dancing? Cleveland is privilege to have so many great dancers and dancing schools that have performed throughout our community. Our rich Irish heritage can be found in the cultural area where Cleveland’s Irish history is displayed. Thanks to the Cleveland Irish Players, there has been many theatrical productions. Lectures have also been given on important periods of Irish history.

The Cleveland Irish Festival is for all ages. Bring your children, your parents and other family members to the Berea Fairgrounds the weekend of July 14-16 to enjoy our rich Irish heritage. For more information, please visit the website:     

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*Marilyn Madigan is the National President of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians and a Deputy Director of the United Irish Societies of Cleveland. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from St. John College and retired from Nursing at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

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