Taking the Fields of Glory:
By Denise Doherty Kennedy /
Thirty years ago this year, we lost our wonderful Dad, Daniel (Danny) J. Doherty, way too soon. To be notified that the Cleveland GAA Memorial 7’s tournament will be played in his memory is a wonderful way to mark this significant anniversary. We, as a family, are humbled and grateful for this tribute to his memory, and that of his son’s Danny and Sean.
Our father was born in the village of Tiernasligo, in the town of Clonmany, CO. Donegal, Ireland in 1932. This area is the northern most part of the island, on a peninsula called Inishowen.
He was the second eldest of nine children, and due to his scholastic achievements, he was offered secondary education after 8th grade. He refused, and chose to go to work instead, like most of his peers in 1946.
Danny first immigrated to Scotland and worked the construction trades with The Wimpy Construction Firm. Many of the jobs he worked were war-related government contracts, building infrastructure and fortifications along Scotland and Britain’s coastline.
He migrated from Scotland to England during this time and remained in England for ten years. Danny also competed with a boxing troupe for extra money and maintained a winning record.
My father debated between Australia and the United States for his final immigration, and chose to go to New York City, on February 6, 1958. Our mother, Miss Evelyn Carr, from Kilcar, Co. Donegal, was already living and working in New York; she had immigrated to the states at the age of sixteen.
Historically, in all five boroughs of NYC, there were dinners and dances sponsored by various Irish social, cultural, and political organizations. On Sunday’s, you could head up to the Bronx and cheer for your county in hurling or Gaelic football.
Our parents met at an Irish dance hall called The Jaeger House in Brooklyn, NY, and were married within a year, on October 3rd, 1959.
Their first born, Sean, was born December 12, 1960. Life was good, and busy. My father continued to work construction and got into the Building Trades. They had planned to stay in New York, but family members in Cleveland convinced them to move to the Midwest.
A second son, Danny Jr., was born in 1962 in Huron Road Hospital, East Cleveland. Four more children followed: Kevin, Randall, Denise, and Rosemarie. Our family settled in the West Park neighborhood, in St. Patrick’s Parish.
Danny continued to work very hard in Cleveland, first with the teamsters, then with the Building Laborers’ Local 310. He provided thirty-three years of dedicated service to the local.
My father was an avid reader. He enjoyed the daily paper, and many historical books. He loved to garden during the warm summer months and could fix anything around the house. He loved all sports and enjoyed watching all the Cleveland professional teams. He loved playing nine holes of golf with his sons and playing cards with the family; especially during holidays.
In his later years, playing the daily number lottery game was part of his routine. He was very lucky. He enjoyed many great friendships among his co-workers, neighbors, and the Irish community.
Danny’s desire to start a youth Gaelic football team started when his sons were very young. The four boys were directed to gather their gang of friends to participate in youth Gaelic football in the Mid-1970s for the Under 12/Under 14 programs for St. Pat’s GAA.
These early teams were all 1st generation Irish American, learning the game from their fathers. Most every Sunday during the season was spent at Gunning Park, while multiple age groups of teams competed. It was a full day event.
Can you identify the players in the picture?
We were all so young. Mom was with us every step of the way. I can remember times when the house was full, when mom was feeding the team. She washed a lot of jerseys and dad put a lot of miles on the station wagon. Those were very happy times for him and for us.
One story that my father shared with me represents the generosity of the Irish community. My father had conducted practice and went into a tavern on Puritas Road; called Buckley’s (which later became Danny Boy Tavern). He was speaking to Mr. Buckley how he wasn’t able to raise the money to get a bus to take the kids to Pittsburgh to compete against the youth GAA team there. The bar owner, listened to the story, and gave him the money to hire the bus. My father never forgot it. He developed deep friendships with Martin Lowry, Farrell Kilbane, Pete Kelly, all who helped contribute to coaching the youth and forming St. Jarlath’s in the 1980s.
Starting in the center pacing the sidelines: Pete Kelly, Danny Sr., Martin Lowry and Farrell Kilbane.
Martin Lowry with St. Pat’s youth GAA, 1972.
We are proud of our father’s impact on our community; the 7-a-Side Memorial Tournament is a fitting tribute to our dad, Daniel J. Doherty.
*[Thank you for providing such wonderful photos, and a walk through our past, and great memories Denise, JOBJr.]
St. Jarlath’s at a match in Canada in 1982, black banded for Danny Doherty, Jr. who had just passed away. Player’s mothers sewed the bands with Danny Jr.s number 10 in honor. Danny Sr. is 1st row, on the far left.
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Midwest GAA Update
The Cleveland St. Pat’s – St. Jarlath’s GAA host the Memorial 7’s on Saturday, May 20th, at the West Side Irish American Club (Olmsted Township). Men’s and Ladies’ football teams from around the Midwest and beyond will compete starting at 9a.m. and continuing to the finals at 5p.m. on two fields.
This year teams will travel in from Buffalo, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Toronto to join the Cleveland hosts. The day will be action packed while the evening will be filled with awards and craic in the pavilion. Traditional music will be provided by Full 90. The event is free and open to the public.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh (thanks y’all) to our readers and supporters. We need your help and involvement but would most like to share the fun of Irish sport and Cleveland community with you. Consider getting involved at any level.
Fáilte (welcome) to all. The Gaelic Athletic Association is Ireland’s largest sporting organization and a bit of home for the Irish abroad here in the US of A. Beyond sports, the Association also promotes Irish music, song and dance, and the Irish language as an integral part of its objectives. Cleveland GAA is open to all who want to play competitive sports, meet new people, and join an athletic, fitness-minded club for all ages.
Follow @ClevelandGaelic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the 2022 activities for Men, Women, and Youth, or visit ClevelandGAA.com.
*Vincent Thomas Francis Xavier Beach is a proud Greater Clevelander and emigrant of Michigan. He joined the St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Club in 1999 and, with much help, is the current caretaker of the Cleveland GAA. His Irish is a cross of dialects from the University of Cincinnati and An Cheathrú Rua. With his wife, Michelle, he enjoys watching time absolutely fly by as their children grow. His other hustles are coaching CYO basketball at St. Mary of Berea, coaching soccer in Olmsted TWP, teaching Construction Management at CWRU, and laying down some engineering skills on local water/wastewater projects.