Terry Kenneally
Columnist: Off the Shelf, On This Day in Irish History

Cleveland Comhrá  Terry Kennneally

Each month when I receive my copy of this publication, I flip through the entire paper to see what my colleagues have written about, then I turn to “Off the Shelf” and read this months book review. Only then do I start back at page one and devour the rest of the columns. It’s rare when the book Terry reviewed is one I’ve already read. Terry and I have been trying to get together for sometime, always talking about getting together whenever our paths crossed. We finally had the opportunity not too long ago at his law office in Rocky River, surrounded by stacks of case files on what appeared to be a very busy day. I found out this was just a normal day in Terry Kenneally’s life.

OhIANews: Can you tell us where you grew up and where you received your education?

Terry: I was born and bred in Cleveland, East Cleveland. I attended grade school at St. Philomena, Holy Name High School, recieved my BA from the University of Toledo, my law degree at Akron University and my Masters in Irish Studies from John Carroll University.

OhIANews: Why Irish Studies?

Terry; Being Irish, I’ve had a strong interest in all things Irish, and I saw an opportunity to go back to Holy Name and teach. So, I went back to school and earned my masters and I’m in my fourth year teaching at Holy Name. I’m currently teaching a course on Irish literature, short stories and in the spring we will cover the famine in Ireland. I’m fortunate I can pick my subject matter, last year I had a course on the troubles in Northern Ireland, one on the Easter Uprising, another on Irish novels, I’m given a lot of lee-way as far as subject matter.

OhIANews: You’re also the President of Holy Name.

Terry: I am, not that that has any influence on anything. I’ve done a lot for Holy Name over the years. Financially, as well as in other ways. My wife Susan is a graduate, my oldest son Terry, who is a police officer, my son Sean who works the practice with me, and my daughter Erin also graduated from Holy Name. My youngest daughter Brianne went to Magnificat.

OhIANews: What does that position entail?

Terry: The president works with the principal, Shelbrey Blanc, another graduate of Holy Name. My primary functions are in advancement and fundraising, I have six people who work for me at the school and we just came off a great year, 2016-2017, we had our best ever annual fund drive. Our gala and golf outing were a big success. We also raised $75,000 for our Namers in Need Fund, which helps seniors who are having trouble making their tution. Then two weeks into our new fiscal year, we received a generous gift from a donor to start the year off, so we’re devloping a strategic plan.

We have a new bishop being installed in September, we haven’t had a bishop since Bishop Lennon resigned, when there isn’t a bishop in office advisory boards and so forth are basically at a stand still. After the bishop is installed, we’ll be very busy.

OhIANews: Most of us would consider being an educator and the president of a high school a full time job.

Terry; This is my full time job. ( Terry waved his arm at the stacks of paper work in his office) I try my best to wear three hats. I’ve been a trial lawyer for thirty-nine years. I have some very loyal, long standing clients. I represent insureds and insurance companies in civil litigation.

I’m fortunate in many ways, I have a great staff at Holy Name, they’re able to work without me being there all of the time. I have a great staff here, my son Sean turned out to be an outstanding lawyer, my wife is our office manager. You’re only as good as the people you have around you, I’m surrounded by good people in both places.

OhIANews: Can you tell us a little more about the work your firm does?

Terry: It’s mostly personal injury related. Personal injuries can occur in many different scenarios, for example, somebody gets rear ended and suffers an injury and files a lawsuit against the person who hit them. If they have insurance, they would turn that over to their insurance company. Every policy gives the company the right to hire counsel to  defend the insured at the company’s expense. So my real client, the paying client is the insurance company, but in 75% of the cases I’m representing one of their insured. In that process there is a lot of litigation, discovery, depositions and so forth. In my thirty-nine years, I’ve probably taken 11-12,000 depositions from people, I’ve tried more than four-hundred cases around the state, so I’ve made a name for myself and have been reasonably successful. It’s not the real high end dollar an hour type of law, but it’s steady and the clients are loyal. We’ve had a very busy summer, but I’m used to it, I couldn’t have a practice if I came in, put my feet up and had the time to read the paper. Everyone here makes it happen, our young associate and my son, our entire staff make it possible.

OhIANews: We have to talk about the Irish American News, you’re one of the original columnists, two features a month, which require you to read even more.

Terry: Ten years now, and believe me, every book I review I read, I’ve always enjoyed reading, even as a kid. All of the books I review are about Ireland, the Irish or written by an Irish author. I’ve got an extensive library of Irish themed books. As much as I hate to see traditional bookstores in decline, I like the convenience of Amazon. I can do a quick preview of a book and have it shipped the next day.

OhIANews: How do you unwind?

Terry: I enjoy reading, I enjoy our two dogs, we have Weimaraners, our kids are all out of the house so the dogs are our family at home. So between the practice, Holy Name, reading, my dogs, I think the best thing is time with my four grandkids.