Cleveland Comhrá (Cleveland Conversation) w Michael Crawley

November 16th, 2015

Cleveland Comhrá
(Cleveland Conversation)
by Bob Carney
A Story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

Today we sit down with Michael Crawley to discuss the 87th Cleveland Pipe Band, his solo work, and band Marys Lane.
OhIAN: Hello Michael. Thanks for meeting with us. Tell us about yourself. Are you a native Clevelander?
M.C.: Yes, I grew up by the airport in Brookpark. My parents bought a house there when they originally came over from Scotland in 1963. They lived across the street from St. Colman’s, and then bought the house in Brookpark.

OhIAN: Was your family musical?
M.C.: I’m the youngest of four siblings and all of us played bagpipes. My oldest sister, Kathleen, is still an active player with the 87th. My dad was a piper from the age of eight or nine. He played in pipe bands in Scotland, and when he came to the states he played with a couple of bands until he took a job with the Ford Motor Co. He stopped playing for about 17 years. In ‘86 or ’87, he was approached by the Irish Heritage Club to start a pipe band. He put together the band under the assumption it was going to be sponsored by the club, which eventually fell through.
Originally the band was to be named after the club, but they changed to the 87th Cleveland after the year it was formed. – probably the most common question about the band!

OhIAN: What is the 87th?
M.C.: I would say we are a civilian band centered around competing, which is different from most pipe bands.

OhIAN: When you travel to competitions does the expense fall on the members?
M.C.: Yes. For the most part the band picks up instrument and uniform expenses, but as far as travel, that is up to the individual.

OhIAN: You recently competed in Scotland. Did you have time to sightsee or was it all rehearsals and competition?
M.C.: We were there for a week. There was always time for people to do stuff; it was easy to take a one or two hour train ride from Glasgow.

OhIAN: You did fairly well in the competition.
M.C.: Yes we finished 8th out 15 in our group, which was pretty good. Obviously when you’re that close to something it would have been great to play the finals. For about 70% of the band, that was the first time they traveled to Scotland. It was a good trip and everyone got along great.

OhIAN: As far as teaching bagpipes, it seems like it would be a difficult instrument to learn?
M.C.: It’s about a 12 to 16 month process before a person can play the bagpipes. You start on a practice chanter which is similar to a recorder. The hardest part is you’re learning on an instrument that sounds nothing like the bagpipes. It’s not like a piano where when you play you hear the same note you’ll hear in ten years time. The physical coordination involved is challenging as well, but, if the determination is there, you find a way.

OhIAN: You also do solo work?
M.C.: Yes, memorials, weddings, funerals, and anniversary dinners etc… There is enough of a demand in Cleveland to make decent money at it. I’m doing more of that recently than in the past. I left my full time position in the corporate world in April to pursue music full time, which gives me a lot more flexibility as far as bookings.
Michael Crawley
OhIAN: How did you get into guitar?
M.C.: I started playing later in my teens. My sister played in church choir as long as I can remember. My dad also played, so there were always guitars in the house. We also had a piano, as well as bagpipes and drums around to try and play. It’s relaxing to sit down with a guitar rather than standing and playing the bagpipes, and you can play anytime. The first band I was in, I was hired to play bagpipes. I would play two or three songs a show just playing bagpipes, and then I asked if I could sit in on some guitar stuff.

OhIAN: Let’s talk about Marys Lane.
M.C.: Pat Mulloy, Mark Whalen and myself have been in the band since its inception. It started out as a conversation in 2008 at Cleveland Irish Festival, watching a band play under the tent. We talked about how we should try to put something together, but it kind of fizzled out. One year later the three of us found ourselves at the same exact tent watching the same exact band and decided to really get serious about it.
Our first practice was in 2010. We procrastinated a good 14 or 16 months before the band finally got on its feet. We’ve had a couple of changes on bass and fiddle; we had a piano player for awhile. We’re in the process of integrating a new member who plays mandolin, guitar, and piano; I think we’re going in the right direction. We’ve had places like P.J.s, Sullys, and the Park Tavern give us a break very early on when we were completely unknown. Now we’re trying to get people to take a chance on us a little further away and at bigger venues.

OhIAN: You always seem to be having a good time on stage.
M.C.: Yes, it’s easy to play in an Irish bar where people know the songs. It’s harder to play in a place like this (we’re at Park Tavern). People don’t really know half the stuff you’re playing, but know they want to get up and dance and have a good time. Our mentality early on was to play our first set as long as we can and only take one break a night. We play that first set long so people loosen up, have a good time and want to stay all night. During the entire night we’ll play 3 or 4 slow songs, so mostly the energy level is high. It is fun and we have a pretty loyal following, which makes it all worthwhile.

OhIAN: You also play a pretty good blend of music.
M.C.: We have a good mix of originals and country, and Pat brings some alternative stuff as well. We’re trying to find older Irish music that hasn’t really been played that much here. I like stuff from the 60’s folk scene that fused into rock. We’re also exploring more modern bluegrass tunes.

OhIAN: Any advice you would give to aspiring musicians?
M.C.” I guess the best thing is to get out and sing or play, make mistakes, but keep going. Take advantage of any opportunity to perform that comes along.

OhIAN: Michael, thank you very much and the best of luck to you, Marys Lane and the 87th Cleveland.




Fantastic new movie, Brooklyn, is Coming!

November 11th, 2015

Have you heard about the Fantastic new movie, Brooklyn, coming out?


An advance screening has been scheduled for “Irish influencers” and I have been asked to share it with you ~ so I invite you to come. (No, I don’t care whether you re Irish or not ~ it is a good movie, and a good movie about emigration, which so many of our countrymen and women share)

Trailer: Brooklyn

and here is the info for tickets:
BROOKLYN Advance Screening
Tuesday, November 17 – 7:30 PM – Cedar Lee Theater
To download an admit-two pass, visit:
*Please arrive early, as seating is first-come, first-serve.

BROOKLYN Advance Screening
Tuesday, November 24 – 7:30 PM – Cinemark Valley View
To download an admit-two pass, visit:
*Please arrive early, as seating is first-come, first-serve.

Both screenings will sell out, so act now.

So MUCH going on in and around Cleveland this weekend

November 4th, 2015

Out & About Ohio November 2015

Brooklyn – Hooley House!

6th – Top Dog, 13th – Collage, 20th – Pop Fiction, 25th – Thanksgiving Eve Bash – Walk of Shame, 27th- Almost Famous. 10310 Cascade Crossing, Brooklyn 216-362-7700.

Cincinnati – Irish Heritage Center

Irish Teas/Library /Genealogy Detective/ all three by appointment.             Irish Heritage Center 3905 Eastern Avenue 513.533.0100.

ALL under Cleveland;

The Harp

4th – Lonesome Stars, 6th – Irish Session, 7th – The Porter Sharks, 11th – Chris & Tom, 13th – Clearfork, 14th – Chris Allen, 18th – Lonesome Stars, 20th – The Old Pitch, 21st – Fior Gael, 25th – Chris & Tom, 27th – Kristine Jackson, 28th – Brent Kirby. 4408 Detroit Road, 44113

Stone Mad

Traditional Irish Session 1st Sunday of ea/month, Happy Hour Monday-Friday 4 to 7. 1306 West 65th Street Cleveland 44102 216-281-6500

Flat Iron Café

O n A Kristine Jackson

Kristine Jackson: 6th – Flat Iron, 20th – Flannery’s, 27th The Harp,

6th- Kristine Jackson, 13th – Chad Hoffman, 20th – Jim & Eroc, 27th – Donal O’Shaughnessy. 1114 Center St.  Cleveland 44113-2406 216.696.6968.


1st – brokENglish, 8th – Jeff Sherman, 15th – Chris Allen, 23rd – Mike Brogan, 29th – Tom Evanchuck. 820 College Avenue, Cleveland, 44113

PJ McIntyre’s

4th- Pub Quiz w/Mike D. 7pm, 7th – Carlos Jones, 13th – The New Barleycorn, 14th – Charlie in the Box, 20th – The Westies, 21st – Iced Cherry, 25th – Marys Lane (Thanksgiving Eve) , 26th – Happy Thanksgiving, 27th – Disco Inferno, 28th – U2 Cover Band. Good Luck to the Brady Campbell Irish Dancers at the 2015 Midwest Oireachtas in Minnesota: Bring Home the Gold!
Don’t forget T-Shirt Tues: wear any PJs T-Shirt get 15% off bill! Whiskey Wed:  ½ off every whiskey in the house. Thurs – Craft Beer $2.50. NEW CRAFT BEER REFRIGERATOR. PJ McIntyre’s is a Local 10 Union establishment. Home of the Celtic Supporter’s Club and the GAA. Book all your parties & Events in our Bridgie Ned’s Irish Parlor Party Room. 17119 Lorain Road, 44111. 216-941-9311.

Flannery’s Pub

6th – Claire Stuczynski, 7th – Rollin Joe Porter, 13th – Austin Walkin Cane, 14th – Brent Kirby, 20th – Kristine Jackson, 21st – Bar Flies, 27th & 28th – New Barleycorn. 323 East Prospect, Cleveland 44115 216.781.7782 

Avon Lake

Ahern Banquet Center

Ahern Banquet Center is booking weddings and special events.  Call Tony Ahern / Lucy Balser @ 440-933-9500.  726 Avon Belden Rd, Avon Lake  44012.


Irish American Club East Side

7th – The Great Pretenders, aka Lip Sync, admission $8, 13th – Craic Brothers, 25th – Pumpkin Pie Night with Minute to Win It Games, 27th – Michael Crawley

PUB: 7:30 – 10:30. IACES 22770 Lake Shore Blvd. Euclid, 44123. 216.731.4003 


Logan’s Irish Pub

Trad Sessiún 3rd Wednesday. 414 South Main Street, Findlay 45840 419.420.3602

Valley City


7th – Ed Feighan, 21st – Sarena Tamboritza Orchestra, 25th – Dean and Chad. 6757 Center Road Valley City, 44280


Plank Road Tavern

Open Sessiún Every Thursday 7 – 10.  $3 Guinness and Jamieson. 16719 Detroit Avenue, 44107

Medina / Montrose


6th  – Island Doctor, 13th  – Michael Crowley & Friends, 14th  – Smug Saints, 20th  – Marys Lane, 21st – The New Barleycorn, 25th – Music Men, 27th – Ray Flanagan & the Authority, 28th – Donal O’Shaughnessy. 117 West Liberty Medina, 44256

Hooley House Montrose

6th – Pieces of Eight, 13th – School Girl Crush, 20th – Jukebox Heroes, 25th – Thanksgiving Eve Bash – Faction, 27th – Players Club, 28th – Cocktail Johnny. 145 Montrose West Avenue Copley, Oh 44321 (234) 466-0060 


Hooley House

6th – Pop Fiction, 13th – Big in Japan, 20th – Sunset Strip, 25th – Thanksgiving Eve Bash – Abbey Normal, 27 – Pieces of Eight. Every Tuesday – Open Mic w Nick Zuber, Every Wednesday – Trivia Night.  7861 Reynolds Rd Mentor (440) 942-6611. 

Olmsted Twp

West Side Irish American Club

8th – Fall “25″ Card Tournament, 26th – Thanksgiving Mass and Raffle: contact Mary Ellen Grealis 440-235-6528, 29th –Trim-a-Tree.12/11 – Willoughby Brothers Christmas Dinner/Concert, 12/12 – Children’s Christmas Party. Great live music and food in The Pub every Friday.  WSIA Club 8559 Jennings Rd. 44138 440-235-5868.

Rocky River

Casey’s Irish Imports

18th – Annual Belleek event, with Belleek artist coming to sign two event pieces. 11:00 to 4:00. 19626 Center Ridge Rd, Rocky River, OH 44116 440-333-8383.


Hooley House

6th – Faction, 13th – Cocktail Johnny, 20th – Carlos Jones, 25th – Thanksgiving Eve Bash – Sunset Strip, 27th – the Atraxxion. 24940 Sperry Dr Westlake 44145.
 (440) 835-2890


Shamrock Club Events

Happy Hour every Friday from 5-7pm! 60 W. Castle Rd. Columbus 43207 614-491-4449

Tara Hall

Traditional Irish music w General Guinness Band & Friends 2nd Friday 8:00 – 11:00pm. No Cover. Tara Hall 274 E. Innis Ave. Columbus, 43207 614.444.5949.

Traditional Irish Social Dancing:

Set dancing lessons, Tuesdays 8-10 pm, St. Clarence Church, North Olmsted

Wednesdays 7-9 pm, Irish American Club – East Side

Ceili dancing lessons, Thursdays, November 5, 12, 7-9 pm, West Side Irish American Club

Holiday Ceili, Friday, December 18 at Irish American Club-East Side

for information, contact or find us on Facebook

Ongoing Traditional Irish Sessiúns - Bring your instruments and play along!

  • Akron Hibernian’s Ceili Band Sessions, Wednesdays 7:30 pm. Mark Heffernan  Div 2 Hall 2000 Brown St, Akron 330-724-2083. Beginner to intermediate
  • Bardic Circle @The Shamrock Club of Columbus Beginner – friendly, intermediate level Irish session meeting every other Thursdays 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
  • Plank Road – Every Thursday 7 – 10. All ages and experience welcome. 16719 Detroit  Road, Lakewood, 44107
  • The Harp – 1st Friday of every month, 9pm
  • Logan’s Irish Pub – 3rd Wednesday of the month, 414 S. Main St., Findlay, 7:30 pm
  • Oberlin’s Traditional Irish Session – 2nd Monday of the month 7 – 9 Slow Train Café, 55 East College St., Oberlin. Informal all experience welcome:
  • Tara Hall -Traditional Irish music w General Guinness Band & Friends 2nd Friday 8:00 – 11:00pm. 274 E. Innis Ave. Columbus, 43207 614.444.5949.



Philosophy ~ be Thank full – you’ll never go hungry.

November 4th, 2015

Editor’s Corner
by John O’Brien, Jr.

Of course, our theme this month is to be Thank full –
you’ll never go hungry.

In life, the wonders never cease, but in autumn, we see them so much more clearly.

When I was young, I felt the pang of no relatives in the US.  Families adopted us, but I saw the families near me swarming with cousins and other relations.  Now, our family has grown to 27, with the first of my 17 nieces and nephews marrying last month.  I relish gatherings, to see them interact, to see them share in each other’s lives.  Despite a hellish famine and forced emigration story, the Irish are family fanatics; family full, we never go hungry.

Some love Christmas, some love Halloween, summer or St. Pat’s.  For me, Thanksgiving is the one that means the most.  I have nothing; I am nothing; I need nothing, and I am so grateful to be so blessed.  We gather, we eat, we visit; the tea gets cold, we are blessed to be able to make more, and then … we eat more …
The diet dies, but the starvation for family and friends is more satisfying, providing me with insulation against the coming cold. No pressure on gifts, no guilt on extravagance, except for hugs, those are given in abundance, freely.

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, the focus turns from within, to being with out – and offers a format for recognition of the good in a day and a life; for saying thank you, for saying what someone means to you, without wilting as a sap.
Inside, listen and look for a laugh, a language lesson and a letter from Ireland; a Heroes Run, a ravioli, a review and a raid; a puzzle to do and many puzzles to plan, plus amazing advertisers who, by their very actions, create the Ohio Irish American News.

Ohio_1015-24pages_page2Do You Remember ..? we often ask that in the OhIAN – we love the richness of our past, and the success of #tbt (throw back thursdays) on social media shows others do too.  In nostalgia is a fun place to dwell; we Irish seem to have a particular affinity for that.  We don’t live there, as vibrancy must be fed for the future, but our progress across the world has been a function of survival. Not of looking back, but toward a better life going forward.  Our backs may bend; our hearts may break, but still, we pay it forward.

I am proud to serve on the board of the RISE Foundation.  Founded by singer Frances Black, the RISE Foundation helps the families of those struggling with addiction, especially alcohol. Providing service to those in need has been a driving force for us, and is one for Frances and RISE too.  Save the date:  The 2nd Annual RISE Foundation Fundraiser is January 17th at The Music Box Supper Club.  Frances, Aoife Scott and The New Barleycorn will perform, the food is fantastic and the event will sell out.  Go to for tickets.

Irish playwright Brian Friel passes:

“His passing will be celebrated.  He will have many eulogies from friends and statesmen and women, but there will be others, such as I, who never knew him, but loved his craftsmanship.  There will be those of us who will mourn the fact that Ireland may not produce another playwright who can make the simple profound, and who exposes the cracks of our lives with such compassion, and humility.”
- Terry Boyle’s Terry From Derry’s Cracks of our Lives column, on page 23.




“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know;
O’Bent Enterprises includes:

Growing Up Irish: A New Rose

October 25th, 2015

Growing Up Irish: Welcoming The New Rose
by Maureen Ginley

As many of you know from my articles in the Ohio Irish American News, my many tweets, and countless photos posted online, I am a huge fan of the Rose of Tralee International Festival. My experience of going through the 2015 Ohio Rose Selection was nothing short of amazing, and I find the Festival as a whole to be a wonderful celebration of Irish heritage and strong, inspiring women.

Growing up Irish

These thoughts were 100% reiterated when I watched the Festival’s Stage Nights on the RTÉ Player on August 17th and 18th. Over the course of two evenings, thirty-two young women from all over the globe spoke of their Irish heritage, their hobbies, and what the Festival meant to them. A few even performed a song, poem, or other unique talent! I found myself laughing, crying, or cheering along the whole time.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me why I continued to be involved with the Festival despite not being chosen at the 2015 Ohio Rose.

“Why bother? You weren’t chosen, so I’d think you’d be a little bitter. I know I would be.”; “You should just forget about it and move on.”; “Are you going to give it another go some other year?”

These are just a few of the comments I brushed off and forgot about as I went on Quinn Irish Radio, attended the Claddagh Ball and joined the 2015 Ohio Rose Kaytee Szente (amongst other wonderful women I’m blessed enough to call Rose sisters) on a float in the Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I just have no bad feelings regarding not being chosen as this year’s Ohio Rose, and I am so proud of all of the work Kaytee has done to make our Centre known around the area and all the way over in Portlaoise!
“You have to be a Rose to know just how wonderful the experience truly is,” I would tell the naysayers and negative nellies I encountered.

The beauty of the Rose of Tralee Festival is that it fosters positive female friendships rooted in something real, something personal to so many women around the world – being a part of the Irish diaspora. I saw this positivity unfold during the week of August 14th to 18th as photos from the Rose Tour were posted online and videos were shared by various Rose Centres.

Everyone – Roses and Escorts, volunteers, Rose Buds, and even our 2014 International Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh – looked like they were having the time of their lives. The smiles on everyone’s faces were genuine; the laughs in the background of videos posted by the Festival on their Facebook page were loud, and almost endless; the updates from different Centres connected those of us unable to attend the Festival in person to the fun that was occurring in Tralee. Even if you weren’t in Ireland, it sure felt like you were.

When the Stage Nights were broadcast online, I was blown away by the poise each of the Roses possessed. It reminded me of the Ohio Selection Night and how maturely my Rose Sisters presented themselves! Dáithí Ó Sé, the host of the Rose of Tralee television nights, interviewed each Rose, asking them questions about their family, their hobbies. He joked around with them, and they joked back. It was almost like watching two old acquaintances paling around each time a new Rose walked onstage to the sound of thunderous applause in the Dome.

One moment from the Stage Nights that I remember distinctly occurred during the Meath Rose’s interview. Elysha Brennan, who would go on to be crowned the 2015 International Rose of Tralee, spoke with Dáithí about how she was a terrible driver. The way she spoke about this with such candor made me laugh out loud. As someone who is probably not the greatest driver either, I felt a kinship with Elysha, and I found myself saying “right on!” as she continued her interview. As she spoke of her schooling and overcoming Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I grew to be more and more impressed with her confidence and positivity. As someone who has gone through so much, she presents herself with the grace and fairness that the Rose of Tralee Festival is all about.

When Dáithí called her name at the end of the evening, announcing that she had been chosen as the 2015 International Rose of Tralee, her Rose sisters bombarded her with congratulatory hugs before she was presented with her new sash and tiara from Maria Walsh. She seemed shocked – I expect anyone would be in that situation – but quickly recovered and gave a speech thanking the Roses who stood beside her and the one that presented her with the stunning headpiece just moments before.

On her year ahead, Elysha says, “I’m really looking forward and excited for the year ahead, I hope to represent myself, my 64 other rose sisters and the Rose of Tralee festival proudly. This time next year I hope to be able to look back on my year as the Rose and say I gave it my best shot and made a positive impact in some way.”

If her presence in Portlaoise and Tralee are any indication of how she’ll do, I’m positive she is going to be an incredible International Rose of Tralee.

I cannot say it enough: the Rose of Tralee Festival is one of the best things that has happened to me in recent years. During a time when I was trying to reestablish myself back home after being away at college for four years, it helped me to find a community of people that inspire me every day. It showed me the kindness and warm heartedness I had always known was so inherent to the Irish. I was able to not only make new friendships that will certainly last a lifetime, but grow as a person even more proud of their heritage than I was before.




The Best things in town this weekend and this month

October 24th, 2015

Out & About Ohio October 2015

ALL under Cleveland;
The Harp
24th – Pitch the Peat, 28th Chris & Tom. 4408 Detroit Road, 44113
Stone Mad
25th – Chris Allen. Live music entertainment every Sunday. Traditional Irish Session 1st Sunday of ea/month, Happy Hour Monday-Friday 4 to 7. 1306 West 65th Street Cleveland 44102 216-281-6500
Flat Iron Café
30th – Jimmy-O. 1114 Center St. Cleveland 44113-2406 216. 696.6968.
25th- Halloween Party w Marys Lane. 820 College Avenue, Cleveland, 44113
PJ McIntyre’s
24th – Velvetshake, 27th – Kiwanis Dine for Dollars, 30th – Smug Saints, 31st – Spazmatics HAPPY HALLOWEEN: Cash Prizes for Best Dressed Costume!
Don’t forget T-Shirt Tues: wear any PJs T-Shirt get 15% off bill! Whiskey Wed: ½ off every whiskey in the house. Thurs – Craft Beer $2.50. NEW CRAFT BEER REFRIGERATOR. PJ McIntyre’s is a Local 10 Union establishment. Home of the Celtic Supporter’s Club and the GAA. Book all your parties & Events in our Bridgie Ned’s Irish Parlor Party Room. 17119 Lorain Road, 44111. 216-941-9311.
Flannery’s Pub
24th – No Strangers Here, 30th – Kristine Jackson, 31st – Joe Rollin Porter. 323 East Prospect, Cleveland 44115 216.781.7782

Irish American Club East Side
24th – Murphy’s Irish Arts Hooley, 25th – Kid’s Halloween Party, 30th – Irish Wake Memorial Service. IACES 22770 Lake Shore Blvd. Euclid, 44123. 216.731.4003

Medina / Montrose
24th – The Music Men, 25th – Sully’s Annual Irish Wake w the New Barleycorn, 30th – Ray Flanagan & the Authority, 31st – Halloween w Marys Lane. 117 West Liberty Medina, 44256
Hooley House Montrose
30th – Hooleyween Party with Big in Japan. 145 Montrose West Avenue Copley, Oh 44321 (234) 466-0060

Hooley House
30th- Hooleyween Party with Almost Famous. Every Tuesday – Open Mic w Nick Zuber, Every Wednesday – Trivia Night. 7861 Reynolds Rd Mentor (440) 942-6611.

Olmsted Twp
West Side Irish American Club
25th – Pig Roast. 11/8 – Fall Card Tournament, 12/11 – Willoughby Brothers Christmas Dinner/Concert. Great live music and food in The Pub every Friday. WSIA Club 8559 Jennings Rd. 44138 440-235-5868.

Valley City
Great food, atmosphere, staff and now open, our Patio! 6757 Center Road Valley City, 44280

Hooley House
30th – Jukebox Heroes. 24940 Sperry Dr Westlake 44145.
(440) 835-2890


Traditional Irish Social Dance Opportunities:
Set dancing lessons, Tuesdays 8-10 pm, St. Clarence Church, North Olmsted and Wednesdays 7-9 pm, Irish American Club – East Side.
Ceili dancing lessons, Thursdays, October 29, 7-9 pm, West Side Irish American Club or find us on Facebook.
Ongoing Traditional Irish Sessiúns – Bring your instruments and play along!
• Akron Hibernian’s Ceili Band Sessions, Wednesdays 7:30 pm. Mark Heffernan Div 2 Hall 2000 Brown St, Akron 330-724-2083. Beginner to intermediate
• Bardic Circle @The Shamrock Club of Columbus Beginner – friendly, intermediate level Irish session meeting every other Thursdays 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
• Plank Road – Every Thursday 7 – 10. All ages and experience welcome. 16719 Detroit Road, Lakewood, 44107
• The Harp – 1st Friday of every month, 9pm
• Logan’s Irish Pub – 3rd Wednesday of the month, 414 S. Main St., Findlay, 7:30 pm
• Oberlin’s Traditional Irish Session – 2nd Monday of the month 7 – 9 Slow Train Café, 55 East College St., Oberlin. Informal all experience welcome:
• Tara Hall -Traditional Irish music w General Guinness Band & Friends 2nd Friday 8:00 – 11:00pm. 274 E. Innis Ave. Columbus, 43207 614.444.5949.



Cleveland Irish: Shall the Sun Set? A Story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

October 19th, 2015

Cleveland Irish: Shall the Sun Set?
A Story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News​

Cleveland Irish: Shall the Sun Set?
by Francis McGarry​

“The sun never sets on the British Empire” was a statement often used by members of British Parliament and scholars alike. The Age of Revolution altered the understanding of empire in the Atlantic world with revolutions in America, Haiti and France. The Industrial Revolution altered the lens through which the notion of empire was conceived and exported. “Pax Britannica” was on the horizon, the global hegemony of the British industrial empire.

The implementation of the Act of Union in 1800 attempted to ensure that the British Empire would always control the foreign land directly across the Irish Sea. It established the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the interests of industrial Britain. Ireland was not an equal partner in this arrangement, which was forced upon a Catholic majority who were constitutionally second-class citizens.

King George III refused Catholic emancipation. He stated the Union was “calculated to augment and consolidate the strength and resources of the empire.” The goal was not Irish freedom nor Catholic equality. Members of Parliament urged the pacification of the Catholic population, not the sovereign rights of the island. To the British, Ireland was to ever be a colony with limited to no voice.

The Irish had other ideas.


The early years of the Act of Union witnessed an increase in trade from Ireland to Britain as Irish resources fed the Industrial Revolution. Irish imports from Britain decreased as the Irish economy as a whole received limited benefits from the Union. Linen and cattle industries improved as the Napoleonic Wars increased demand and markets; however, this improvement was short lived because 1815 signaled the end of Napoleon. The economic depression following the Napoleonic Wars disproportionally affected Ireland.

Wages in Ireland fell by 20% during those years, while wages in Britain fell only 5%. The price of linen declined by 26%, as did its production. Ireland produced 55.5 million yards of linen in 1826 and only 37.4 yards in 1831. As prices declined, Irish tenants could not pay rent, tithes and taxes. Unemployment increased, as did landlessness; thousands were evicted. This situation was exacerbated by the recovery of the cattle industry in Ireland. As cattle prices rebounded, more land was converted from tillage to grazing.

The Irish people could not recover from the Act of Union. It encumbered the Irish economy and dictated its deindustrialization. Irish industry and agriculture did not grow at the same rate as the Irish population. In 1821, 41.2% of those employed in Ireland were in the industrial workforce and by 1841 that figure stood at only 33.6%. Those rates need to be contextualized by an increase in population of 3.5 million between the years 1800 and 1845. By 1841 over half the employed population was in agriculture devoting over 2,500,000 acres to potatoes. Only 3,500,000 Irish were employed out of a total population of over 8 million. However, the Irish were not starving, yet. The shrinking of the domestic economy and the monocrop subsistence of the potato structuralized the forthcoming genocide while Britain became the richest country in the world.

The United Kingdom utilized its powers and control to limit the Industrial Revolution to England proper and retard the economic growth of Ireland. This was the catalyst for the beginning of the Irish diaspora, which initially was only migration within the newly conjured United Kingdom. Irish neighborhoods in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London were founded by these Irish immigrants, who were most likely employed in industry. Their brethren in Ireland were most likely unemployed or in agriculture, a trend that would intensify in the years preceding the Great Hunger.

Over one million Irish, over half of them Catholic, left the island of their birth to find opportunity in North America. That is more immigration than in the 200 years before. Irish Protestants primarily made their way to Canada. Ulster suffered from the economic realities as did the rest of Ireland.

However, the increased industrialization of Ulster and the ability to more fully participate in society lessened the hardship in the North. The transatlantic journey to Canada was half the cost than that to the United States as a result of British restrictions on shipping to their former colony. Canada was still British and its population was mainly Protestant with relatively few Irish Catholics. Irish Catholics who took advantage of the lower fare typically continued their migration south; most Irish Protestants stayed in Canada.

Canada offered opportunity to Irish Protestants. Mexico even had Irish settlements including the town of San Patricio de Hibernia just south of San Antonio. The United States was beginning its role as the main beneficiary of Irish immigration and offered opportunity to all Irish. Irish immigrants took advantage of the transatlantic shipping industry already established with the 18th century trade in linen and provisions.

The introduction of primogenitor land inheritance reduced the prospects of all children who were not first born, especially women. Irish women comprised over a third of Irish immigrants by the 1830s. America gave Irish women the chance at occupations and more independent living. These women monopolized the servant industry and sent remittance back to Ireland like their brothers and husbands.

Pre-famine Irish immigrants, men and women alike, faced poor wages and long hours. The birth of American industry translated into fierce exploitation of the workforce. The vast majority of Irish immigrants were reduced to menial labor, their lack of skills a byproduct of an undeveloped Irish economy.

These early immigrants also faced prejudice and anti-Catholicism. Newspapers in New York and Boston claimed that the Irish were violent and a race of drunkards, more akin to apes than humans. In Virginia slave owners refused to rent slaves for work on the Chesapeake Canal stating, “Get Irishmen instead. If they die there is no monetary loss.”

Despite these hardships the Irish in early 19th century America sent money back to their families to pay rent, build homes and fund passage to America. It was remittance that financed half the immigration to America. It assisted in institutionalizing immigration as a permanent feature of Irish life before the Famine. The Irish Diaspora had truly begun, and the sun has not set on it yet.

For additional readings: “The Act of Union, British-Irish Trade, and Pre-Famine Deindustrialization” by Frank Geary; “Erin’s Daughters in America, Irish Immigrant Women in the 19th Century” by Hasia Divers; “Emigrant and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America” by Kerby Miller; and “Why Ireland Starved: A Quantitative and Analytical History of the Irish Economy, 1800-1850” by Joel Mokyr.

Don’t Forget Us: The Cratur – A story from this month’s issue of the Ohio Irish American News

September 26th, 2015

Don’t Forget Us: The Cratur
by Lisa O’Rourke

After watching a rural veterinarian revive a dying lamb with a drop of the “cratur”, you would have to wonder, what exactly is that “cratur” stuff? The lamb was very grateful for it anyway. Cratur is a euphemism for whisky, but I have heard it used more often for Poitín, pronounced (put-cheen).

“Truely a spiritual thing that the Irish did long ago when they trapped the pure and magical of nature to create from sunshine and rain, in the mountains and valleys, the original treasured spirit “Potcheen””.

The above quote is from a legal distiller of Poitín, the Bunratty Winery in Ireland. Poitín is the Irish equivalent of the mountain moonshine of the United States. Like the US moonshine, it has been mainly illegal to produce and possess. Also like the moonshine of the US, it is made and found mainly in the remote mountainous areas of the country and is something that is mentioned only discreetly amongst acquaintances.

When I first visited Ireland, I never heard anyone talking about it. Like many things, it was something of the past, and not something in which people showed much pride. Just like here, it has some connotations of a past that is less than educated. However, I would occasionally hear an older person say that many things could be cured with a “drop of the cratur, from arthritis to the common cold.

The first poitín that I was exposed to was presented one cold evening during Christmas, while my husband and I were visiting in Connemara. It was taken from an unmarked bottle stored at the back of a kitchen cabinet. The lady of the house admonished the husband for revealing that they kept such thing in their house, but we reassured them that we were not going to expose them. I was offered a glass. Just smelling it was enough to make me fear for the survival of my eyebrows, I was not about to ingest it! My husband happily had one glass, but that one glass was enough for all.

Time Magazine placed it at number one in its “Top 10 Ridiculously Strong Drinks” list in 2010. According to the magazine, poitín could reach 95% alcohol by volume. Other sources state that it comes in at anywhere between 45% -90% alcohol by volume.

I heard a story during my recent visit to Connemara. It was about a young man whose grandfather was a rather infamous poitín maker in his day. He was caught by the local guards during their pursuit of a dangerous criminal. The guards saw his still and some bottles hidden on the property. The grandfather displayed intelligence and bravery and helped to apprehend the criminal. The guards felt that they could not prosecute the man for his still under those circumstances.

They actually tried to recruit him to the guarda force at that point. The grandfather realized that his lack of literacy in English anyway would make that impossible since he would be unable to write reports, so he declined the position. He was allowed to continue his production unhindered, and the essence of his recipe has survived and been passed down and perpetuated through the generations. The young man who was at the center of the story is getting ready to begin legal, craft-style production of the grandfather’s recipe.

What is happening in Ireland is much like what has happened here; people are realizing that some of the products that they found backward or old-fashioned in the face of modern mass-production actually have value. There has been an impressive food revival, especially in West Cork, where they are making things like handmade cheese and sausages.

Anyone who believes that food in Ireland is not good really needs to improve where they travel. Organic is not a necessary label with many of these producers since they were never anything else. Along with food, there is also a craft beer and cider revival going on around the country, and again, just like here in the US, is very popular with the younger crowd. So, poitín was inevitably next on the list.

The history of poitín is probably as long as that of the country itself. The term poitín comes from the Irish word for small pot, which describes what the mixture would have been made in. A law was passed in 1661 placing a tax on spirits made for personal consumption. The law was reinforced in 1760 with another law that made it illegal to operate a still.

Poitín was made in rural areas, mostly in the mountains and places that would have been difficult to get to. Stills were often put on land borders so that one person could blame another for the still and its products. Just like the moonshine operations here, smoke was often a give-away that something illegal might be “cooking”, so the windy Connemara weather provided a good disguise for the stills.

Poitín, however, has had a bigger battle to fight. Due to the strength of the drink, there are many stories of people becoming very ill after drinking it, with even blindness having been reported. After my experience with it, the idea of someone becoming sick after drinking it seems likely but I have never heard of anyone actually losing their sight.

Poitín is also not consistently made from any one product. It could be made out of things like barley, potatoes or apples; whatever someone had plenty of. With the mix of ingredients and makers, the quality of poitín varies greatly. Yet there are families who have a reputation with the locals for making a batch of reliable quality.

So now poitín, the old-wives cure for arthritis and colds, is starting to become respectable. The families, who have had underground production for generations, may be the ones to profit finally from their grandfather’s secret recipe. The European Union has sanctioned that only poitín made in Ireland can be called that, so if you see it in a bar or liquor store, you know that you are getting the “pure drop” that is in so many songs and stories.

Quote from:

Other sources used:

Time, “Top 10 Ridiculously Strong Drinks” Nov. 16, 2010“How poitín went from illegal moonshine to being sold in Tesco” Nov.17, 2013.



A Letter from Ireland – A Story from this Month’s Issue of the Ohio Irish American News

September 21st, 2015

by Cathal Liam
“…but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead…”

Once again, those hallowed, compelling words filled the air. They echoed among the gravestones in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery as they once did exactly one-hundred years ago.

Now, on a fine summer’s morning last month, a special ceremony was re-enacted honouring the burial of a famous Fenian, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, a man who’d suffered great hardships at the hands of his English jailers. But despite his life’s misfortunes, he managed to overcome each adversity while keeping the dream of Ireland’s freedom alive in his heart.

This tribute marks the first of a yearlong series of forty-some State ceremonies celebrating Ireland’s 2016 Centenary Programme. Rossa, an Irish revolutionary, was a 19th-century Fenian who’d fought long and hard to see Ireland free. His life and subsequent death became a symbol for many Irish nationalists and revolutionaries the world over. His funeral, organised by the Irish Republican Brotherhood [IRB] in support of the newly formed Irish Volunteers [1913], was, in effect, a call to arms. It was IRB’s wish to prepare the Irish people for an upcoming rebellion.

In the presence of the Irish Defence Forces’ 6th Infantry battalion, Ireland’s present-day President, Michael D Higgins, led the official State commemoration in Glasnevin. He was accompanied by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys.

Michael D’s stirring words captured the attention of the thousands who’d gathered to witness the observance. “Even 100 years after his death his name is synonymous with the Fenians and with Irish Nationalism. The liberation of his country became his life’s ambition. His funeral remains one of the pivotal moments in Irish history and was an occasion that would be hugely instrumental in shaping the future of our nation.”

O’Donovan Rossa was born in West Cork in September 1831. In the 1850s he moved to Skibbereen, became a shopkeeper and founded the Phoenix National and Literary Society, a republican front-organisation aimed at wrestling Ireland’s freedom from Britain, by force, if necessary. His Phoenix Society soon merged with the newly established IRB in 1858.
Predictably, Rossa’s anti-British activities saw him arrested in 1865. Charged with high treason, he was sentenced to penal servitude for life in England. But, after enduring five-plus years of tortuous confinement, he was deported to the United States on condition he never return to Ireland.

Now ensconced in New York City, he joined forces with friend John Devoy and actively supported Clan na Gael while continuing to fundraise for Ireland’s cause. Despite years of personal disagreement and turmoil, he earned the name ‘Fenian Flame,’ a man who’d dedicate his life to Irish independence.

In June 1915, death claimed him at eighty-three while still residing in his adopted city. When word arrived in Dublin of his death, Tom Clarke, later one of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and then-leader of the IRB, wrote to Devoy. He instructed him to ship Rossa’s body back home, as he quickly realised Rossa could fulfil one last undertaking for his beloved country. Promptly going to work, the IRB began organising a public funeral scheduled for 1 August.
Concurrently, Clarke started casting about for someone to deliver a powerful eulogy. Despite some misgivings, he chose Pádraig Pearse. After discussing his intentions with the Irish schoolmaster, Clarke directed Pearse to “Make it hot as hell!”, and that’s exactly what the burgeoning author and revolutionary did.

Thus, on 1 August, Pádraig Henry Pearse stepped up before O’Donovan Rossa’s grave and delivered what many believe to be Ireland’s Gettysburg Address.
Among his carefully chosen words, Pearse said, “We stand at Rossa’s grave not in sadness but rather in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come thus into so close a communion with that brave and splendid Gael.”
Later, he stated…
[Speaking of Glasnevin] ”This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and with all restraint but I hold a Christian thing, as O’Donovan Rossa held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression; and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seed sown by the young men of a former generation.”
Then, in conclusion, he asserted…
”Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and, while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.” [The original handwritten script is on display at the Pearse Museum, St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham, Dublin]
But before I end this letter, I thought I’d include a personal remembrance. Back in the early 1990s, while attending the Michael Collins Annual Commemoration at BealnaBlath in West Cork, I met an old farmer. As we talked, the name O’Donovan Rossa came up. He said, “Let me tell you a story about him. Back in those days, it was customary for the expectant woman to have the baby in her family home. So Rossa’s mother, then living in Reeanascreena and knowing her time was near, began walking to her parent’s farm in Roscarbery. Unfortunately, she missed-timed the birth. Alone and squatting down by the side of the road, little baby Rossa was born. Having delivered, she gathered up the child in her arms and continued her walk. To this day the villages of Reeanascreena and Roscarbery both claim O’Donovan Rossa as theirs.”


God bless,



Got Irish? Here’s your chance!

September 4th, 2015

languagelesson languageclass