Ohio Irish American News: A Story from this Month’s Issue: Dogs of Ireland

The Dogs of Ireland – Irish Red & White Setter
by Ray Cavanaugh

The Irish Red &White Setter has a very similar makeup to the “regular” Irish Setter, except that this breed has spots of mahogany, as opposed to the full mahogany coat.

According to the Irish Red &White Club of Ireland, this breed goes back to the mid-18th century and was every bit as popular (if not more so) as the regular Irish Setter.

By the 19th century, Setters had attained quite a reputation. Colonel J.K. Millner’s book The Irish Setter – Its History & Training tells how in 1820 one Setter could sell for several hundred times the average weekly wage. Unfortunately for the Irish Red & White, its fully red counterpart began to attain a higher regard. The bulk of the 1800’s saw a gradual Irish Red & White population decline.

It was in the wake of World War I that the breed saw resurgence. This was largely thanks to the efforts of one gentleman, the Rev. Noble Houston, an ex-army chaplain who felt that “almost all the good dogs had disappeared” during the shortages and urgencies of widespread war.

Rev. Houston’s ambition was aided by Dr. Elliot. The two rounded up whatever remaining Irish Red & Whites they could find. There was precious little time to waste; courtships were kept short and efficient. Ultimately, the Houston-Elliot breeding program was a triumph; resulting progeny are the link to current-day members of the breed.

In Ireland the breed is still employed as a gundog, and excels at this role. In Britain the breed is more often found as a show dog. However one plans to use an Irish Red & White, the dog will need some serious space in which to run.

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Ohio Irish American News: A Story from this Month’s Issue: Rachel Gaffney’s Real Ireland


When I was thirteen years old I spent a week at Knockadoon Summer Camp in Ballymacoda, located about thirty miles from Cork City. Conditions were primitive at best, sharing what seemed like army barracks quarters with friends. It was a mere stones throw from the beach and this Dominican run facility provided a lifetime of memories and a fascination with seaweed for me, for it was here that I began to learn about the infinite source of vitamins and minerals that these sea vegetables provides us.

We gathered samples, brought them back to the classroom, identified their class and even sketched them. We ambled over the rocks and pottered around daily in rain or shine studying the zones, namely Upper, Middle and Lower. That was the extent of my experience with seaweed but not with my fascination.

Earlier last year I was reading various articles on the internet and quite by chance stumbled upon a website www.Prannie.com. Prannie Rhatigan has been harvesting and cooking with seaweed since she was a child. Born and raised on the west coast of Ireland and thanks to her father, she was taught how to harvest seaweed and how not to get trapped by the ever changing tides. In 1990 she received her medical degree from the National University of Ireland, Cork and became a qualified General Practitioner (internal medicine) since 1994.

Once you enter this web site, you will discover how this medical doctor has managed to marry her knowledge of western medicine with the ancient nutritional value of seaweed. The gallery of photographs is a veritable treat for the eyes.

After reading this, I knew I needed to read her book. It is called ‘Irish Seaweed Kitchen’ and is a comprehensive guide to healthy everyday cooking with seaweeds. The book is quite simply a wonderful treat. It is filled with 150 easy to follow recipes and 100 color photographs. Even if you do not plan on cooking with seaweed (which I urge you to try) there is a glossary accompanied by a list of health benefits and uses.

Most people will have memories of ‘Carrageen Moss’, known as Chondrus crispus or Irish Moss. We used to spend summer vacations in Ardmore, Co. Waterford and this seaweed was sold dried in the local store. It was popular for sore throats and healing properties. In this book, Myrtle Allen from the famous ‘Ballymaloe House’ shares her memories and recipe for ‘Carrageen Moss Pudding’

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to Prannie. She explained that there was a very exciting research project being conducted at the University of Ulster. Eighty volunteers are being given seaweed on a daily basis over a period of approximately four weeks. Some are being given a placebo. The anti inflammatory properties are so high in seaweed, so this ground breaking research will be something we can all look forward to.
Prannie suggests introducing small amounts of a wide variety of seaweed on a daily basis for your health and well being.

Last weekend I made this banana bread recipe for my family . Taken from Prannie’s book, it is made using 3/4 oz of dried Alaria.

Banana and Alaria Loaf

3/4 oz dried alaria
(1/4 “ pieces)
2 eggs
4 oz golden raisins
2 Tblsp honey
1 Tblsp rum (optional)
3 oz melted butter
2 Tblsp sugar
8 oz all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 bananas

To Prepare the Alaria
Soak the Alaria in a saucepan with 1/2 pint of water for 20 minutes. Place on a low heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until the mid stern is soft. Allow to cool slightly.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 2lb loaf pan or two 1lb loaf pans.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Soak the golden raisins in the eggs and allow to plump. Add honey and rum if using to the seaweed and cooking liquid.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and allow to cool slightly. Add the honeyed seaweed and the soaked golden raisins in egg mixture.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add a large tablespoon of this to the wet mixture and mix well. Gently fold in the remaining flour mixture.
Stir in mashed bananas. Spoon the mixture , which should be of a soft dropping consistency, into the prepared tin. Bake on the middle shelf for 90 minutes. Remove and cool.

SOURCES FOR SEAWEED: WWW.SEAVEG.COM, VISIT PRANNIE RHATIGAN ON: WWW.PRANNIE.COM. Follow me on Facebook: Rachel Gaffney’s Real Ireland. Twitter : @RachelGaffney

Sunday Funday Blog

Some say Sunday Funday; for me it has always been Sunday Family Day, or Sunday Football day, depending on the time of year. The best days are when all three combine. Family means many things.

I grew up on family values, though us four kids never knew that we were being raised “right”, we just knew our folks loved us, sacrificed endlessly and relentlessly for us, and our friends treated us with kindness and warmth. There were only the six of us growing up, with no relations in the U.S., but the adopted family we had, and still have, are huge in number and massive in love. We knew we had no relations nearby, but we were never lacking for family.

A weekly appointment, as available, is to meet my mom for mass, then go to breakfast, usually at Gene’s Place, where my dad often joins us after wheeling the old folks to Mass at St. Augustine Manor. He has done this for as long as I can remember. Today, I was driving from Mass at St. Mel’s when I saw a young girl, maybe 10, jogging across the street. I stopped to let her pass. Her brother, maybe a year or two older, followed, then the mom, then dad pushing a stroller – by jaypers, it was only missing the family dog.

What a great activity for a family to engage in, on so many levels. Time together, being active, taking care of your health, facing challenges and motivating each other; multiple messages and shaping values, great and small … I thought it was fantastic. I drove on to Gene’s Place, a cool but casual family style restaurant with hundreds of pics of famous Hollywood folks on the walls, with a few Cleveland sports pics and old war bond type posters added in for good measure.

On Sundays, there are always three hosts at Gene’s. The oldest, is and always has been, as rude as they come; the middle is a nice woman, quiet but nice, and the youngest always a high school or college aged kid that rotates with seasonal staff. The last two are friendly, and trying to do a good job. I have no further comment on the first one. We go there 2-3 times a month – it is close, reasonable cost and outside the one Host, pretty friendly and fast.

There are ALWAYS empty tables, unbussed, and on random Sundays, for no reason I can discern, despite the unbussed empty tables, a waiting list to be seated carries a half page of names. This time, it was packed. We went across the street to PJ McIntyre’s instead, and I had a great lunch with mom.

The turkey club on a pretzel roll, hold the tomatoes, is my fav @PJ’s, but the soccer mentals watching the game unnerved my mom a bit. We talked about a memorial service for my Aunt Sheila, who passed away recently in Montreal, where my mom is from, shared our week and talked about things coming up.

An old friend, Kevin Jennings walked by. Kevin played broomball with my dad and me for many years; a fantastic, gutty guy with a hard, low driving shot that was deadly. I remember one Saturday, being 10 or 12 years old, and painting the ceilings at the old West Side Irish American Club on 93rd & Madison. Kevin was next to me, painting the wall. I, being young and stupid, never realized the roller I was using was not only covering the ceiling quite well, but in my lack of situational awareness, was also spraying and dripping paint on the floor. Soon after, Kevin saw my mess and stopped further damage. He never said a word to anyone, just helped me clean it up, teaching a few lessons on class and camaraderie while saving me embarrassment and the look from dad I was knew would come, and was glad to avoid.

Broomball came to Cleveland back in the 1970’s. My dad had played in Montreal, and started a league here a few years after meeting and marrying my mom, having my two oldest sisters, and emigrating for the second time, first from Ireland to Canada, then Canada to Cleveland. Winterhurst Broomhockey League had evolved from an outdoor rink in Parma on Sunday afternoons to a 48 men’s and 12 women’s team league, with games held at Winterhurst, Rocky River and North Olmsted rinks four days a week.

I remember well my mom having the entire sixty team league schedule taped together and spread out on the dining room table, and the eraser residue would linger as mom and dad fought rules, protocols and time limits to lay out the coming year’s games, playoffs and awards banquet. This was pre-computer, and all by pencil, all by hand.

Division 1 games were still held on Sunday afternoons at Winterhurst, and the stands would be full of family and friends in the highly competitive and highly fun league. The floor boards in the stands would vibrate with the pounding feet and the cold walls echo with claps and shouts. Every Sunday all winter, after the game many would come back to my folk’s house five-six blocks away, for a meal, a beer, game rehash and other stories. We were Circles, long before Google.

As my folks are getting older, and my dreams of a family of my own face the reality of the passing of time, I walk the path of my own experience, and take the family given to me, by the grace of God, and the lessons of my parents, with open arms.

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Ohio Irish American News: A Story from this Month’s Issue: Owens Sports

Owens Sports
by Mark Owens

Boxing – Johnny Kilbane: 100th Anniversary of World Title
Little did John and Mary Kilbane know it, but on April 9th, 1889 the baby boy they had just brought into the world would eventually become a world champion boxer and a folk hero in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. The proud parents would not see the success unfortunately, his mother dies when he was three and his father became blind when Johnny was six. Johnny himself dropped out of school after grade six to help support the family.

According the BoxRec.com, a world recognized site for boxing stats, Kilbane had his 1st fight in 1907, when he fought Tom Mangan in Cleveland. He would go on to fight just over thirty bouts before landing his 1st world title in a fight against Abe Attell (known as the Little Hebrew) on February 22nd 1912, in a 20 rounder held in Vernon, California; the fight was for the World Featherweight Champion, and it quickly became a 10,000 seat sell out, with reports suggesting another 5,000 were turned away at the door. Kilbane won the bout after the 20 rounds, leading to the following report from the local paper:

“Kilbane’s work was a revelation to his fans. Entering the ring with the odds 2 to 1 against him, he never faltered for an instant. He was lightning fast, both with hands and feet. Attell seemed bewildered throughout the fight. The decision of Referee Eyton was received with a wild whoop and Kilbane was carried from the building on the shoulders of his friends. Attell, tired, his face drawn and bleedin,g stood at the edge of the platform at the end of the fight and said to a friend: ‘Well, I had to stand for it. I couldn’t do any better’.”

According to records, Kilbane arrived back in his hometown – as fate would have it – on St Patrick’s Day. An estimated 200,000 lined the streets of downtown Cleveland to welcome home their new hero.

Kilbane held the title of World Featherweight Champion from 1912 to 1923, defending it on multiple occasions before eventually losing to Eugene Criqui at the Polo Ground of New York. It is widely believed that Kilbane held the World Title for the 2nd longest period in the history of boxing; boxing legend Joe Louis holds the record.

Soon after this Kilbane hung up the gloves and moved on to start living a somewhat normal life. He tired his hand a variety of jobs, from boxing referee to state senator of Ohio. Johnny and his family stayed in the Cleveland area, living the Old Angle area of West 28th Street.

Johnny Kilbane died on May 31, 1957. His story is one that you begin to ask why this was not made into a movie, and why have I not heard about this before? Visit www.johnnykilbane.com if you’d like more info on this Cleveland ‘legend’.
Irish Boxing – 2012 Olympics

If you put the words Ireland, Olympics and boxing, together you will typically end with a story of success and achievement. The country has an impressive track record when it comes to boxing, and with the inclusion of women’s events at this year’s Olympics in London, the country may yet have another reason to celebrate.

County Wicklow native Katie Taylor may give us another reason to celebrate. Taylor has the potential to become the next great Irish female Olympian by winning gold, going one better than Irish hero Sonia O’Sullivan, a silver medalist at the last games in Sydney in 2000. Last year was another great year in the life of one of Ireland great up and coming athletes. After winning a 3rd World Amateur title in 2010, Taylor won her 4th gold medal at the European Championship in Poland.
In addition to boxing, Taylor is also an avid football fan and indeed plays for the Republic of Ireland international women’s team, earning over 50 caps for the Irish national team.

First last month’s question: The Republic of Ireland last played in the European Championships back in 1988, but failed to make it through the group stages. They were eight minutes away from qualifying for the semi-finals until which team, and eventual tournament winners, scored a late winner? Well the answer is Holland – Wim Kieft popped up with eight minutes remaining to head in the winning goal and put an end to any Irish hopes of playing in the semi-finals. Holland went on to beat West Germany 2-1 in the semi, before beating the Soviet Union 2-0 in the final.
This month’s question: As mentioned earlier, Sonia O’Sullivan won silver for Ireland at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia – but in what event?

*Mark Owens is originally from Derry City, Ireland and has resided in the Cleveland area since 2001 where he is employed by State Farm Insurance Companies, having previously spent time studying at John Carroll University. Send questions, comments or suggestions for future articles to Mark at: markowens@ireland.com.


“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know;
Make it part of you, to be a part of me.
Follow me, up and down, all the way, and all around;
Take my hand and say you’ll follow me
– by John Denver
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Comp Day: Use it or lose it

Comp Day
I’m on the use it or lose it comp time program at my day job with the Sheriff’s Office. No overtime, just straight exchange. I rack up a lot of extra hours. I prefer to use it, thank you. So, I took off today. I had grand plans too, to visit potential advertisers for the Ohio Irish American News, a monthly newsmagazine, which I also publish.

I have been trying to find a sales rep for the Cleveland area for over a year – how is that possible in an economy as bad as everyone says this one is? Little Depression my ass. But still, I can’t find a sales rep.

It is not easy work, polite persistence is the order of the day, as is the ability to build relationships, and partnerships, but it is good pay, and great fun visiting pubs and restaurants, concert halls and proud Irish business owners. Lately, we have crossed over from just Irish advertisers to include those that may not be Irish, but want to attract those that are. It makes my day when they call me, rather than me calling them. Those kind of milestones show we are making progress.

The March issue went off to print on Tuesday. It is the largest issue we have ever produced, and the cover is simply, flat out, amazing.

But … Instead of visiting potential partners, I went for the required eCheck for my OhIAN Express Bus (every two years – based on the year of your car – even numbered cars go in even years, odd, in odd). I figured my day would be shot, but I figured wrong.

On the marginal between Clague & Crocker, eCheck went smoothly; real pro’s that staff it, and friendly. I don’t think it took 10 minutes. Off to get my plates renewed – dreaded that, as the folks at THAT bureau can be downright nasty. Not this time. Friendly, fast and NOT Free – cost less than I thought it would though, and it only took about 15 minutes.

Off to Casey’s Irish Imports – the Casey’s are some of my favorite people – so warm and genuine and such a great immigrant success story. Owned by Tom & Vera Casey and daughters Kathleen and Maureen, the family run business has been a huge supporter of the Ohio Irish American News, my books and all the other efforts and projects my brain conjures. Casey’s were in the inaugural, January 2007, issue of the OhIAN, signed on, sight unseen, and have been in every single one of the 63 issues since.

Vera Casey was also named 2012 United Irish Societies Mother of the Year and will be honored all over town, but especially at the 145th Annual Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Did you know the Cleveland parade is the 5th oldest in the nation?

Then I heard the grumbellies. Hmm, where to go, where to go? It’s Friday, it’s Lent, and I’m Catholic; in most places, that changes your options. Not in West Park.

West Park Station called my name, and I answered. The motif is Cleveland Safety Forces, thru and thru. Brothers, uncles, cousins and friends for life of owner Jason Salupo are all either cops or fireman in and around Cleveland. Uniforms, auld pictures, equipment and honor reign. Can’t beat the turkey bacon club wrap any other day, but a monster Clover Salad and flavorful crab cakes hit the spot, or maybe it was the Smithwicks?

Stopped off at Backstage Bar to say hi to owner Dave Renick. Hoping they will join the other Kamm’s Corner pubs in advertising with us. I grew up in Kamm’s area. To see the vibrancy and thriving neighborhood we have now is thrilling. I was working at Jim Walter’s Blue Creek Coal Mine in Alabama when I got a job offer to come back to Cleveland. A jet plane was NOT fast enough. I love this city.

I choose to spend most of my entertainment dollars supporting those who support me, in this case, by advertising in the OhIAN. I am also a big believer in paying it forward. Jason Salupo at WPStation and Pat Campbell at PJ McIntyre’s are two of the best people you could meet, Kamm’s Corner and Cleveland ambassadors and huge supporters of the paper.

It is now less than five months till the 30th Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival. Held at the Berea Fairgrounds, the festival has been a family and friend bound by love for the Irish heritage effort for three decades now. In 1982, my dad walked into my bedroom and said, “Johnny, we’re startin a festival, you’re doing the parking,” and he walked out. I was 16.

The first festival, in 1983, has such strong, impactful memories for me. The ones in between are blurred, now, but the impact and life lessons, the friendships and passion for the music are more important to me than ever.

Back at the OhIAN office, work on the 30th annual is knee deep. The lineup is pretty set, but the details are only ½ way to heaven. We began in October, we finish in August, and … we begin again, 6 weeks later. I grew up with it. God willing, I will die with it. Legacy.

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Ohio Irish American News: A Story from this Month’s Issue:

Blowin’ In: A Love Letter
By Susan Mangan

When I was in eighth grade, a boy fancied me. I am not sure what there was to fancy at the time – frizzy hair, glasses, mismatched socks. Nonetheless, his affection was made known not just to me, but to our entire class when he presented me with a corsage on Valentine’s Day. This was not a demure corsage crafted of one or two pink tea roses, but an enormous, puffy, round white carnation dotted with a full-blown red rose in its center.

There was no hiding his love for me. I have always been sensitive to the feelings of others, so I accepted this thoughtful token graciously and tried to stuff it in my desk. He suggested that I pin it onto my Catholic school vest. My vest was long and had pockets, so I thought I could get away with pinning it on the large pocket that draped just over my leg. Here the flower would be hidden when I sat down and my dignity could remain in tact.

My courtier looked at me sheepishly as I was about to break his heart, and I buckled. I pinned that corsage right above my heart for all the school to see. As the final bell of the day rang at the three o’ clock hour, I issued the boy a “Dear John” letter thanking him for the valentine, but shattering any notion that he might have that we were an item. I still have distaste for carnations and much prefer more subtle displays of love. Candy conversation hearts can be eaten and letters can be hidden.

I have always valued the written word, both in the metaphoric and literal sense. As I child, I tried to get my mother to stop smoking by hiding small notes with healthy mantras into the pockets of her nursing uniform, jeans, bathrobe, etc. One note depicted a squirrel sitting in an ashtray surrounded by half-eaten walnuts, with the words “NUTS TO BUTTS” streaming from his mouth. For me, these notes were concrete reminders of my concern and love for my mom. Ultimately she did stop smoking and I like to think my written campaign was quite strategic.

When I was married, I realized that I wasn’t the only member of my family who enjoyed the art of letter writing. For our first Christmas, my mother presented my husband and me with a large box filled with my childhood ornaments. Each and every Snoopy, mouse, and angel had a note attached to it describing the sentiment behind the decoration: my birth, my first Christmas, my first trip to see Santa at the State Street Marshall Field’s store in downtown Chicago. By the time I unwrapped each delicate tissue coated parcel, I was a wistful puddle of tears. I still have all the notes in the box where I keep our ornaments.

For most children, the seventh and eighth grade years are riddled with change and tides of emotions. Tears of joy and disappointment are always too close to the surface, so it comes as no surprise when I heard strains of weeping coming from behind my daughter’s closed door. Unaware of the grade of tsunami that lies behind that door, I opened it with trepidation.

There sat my daughter with stacks of baby photos and letters that I had written to her on the eve of her birthdays. Her second birthday brought with it the birth of her baby brother. I described how tender she was with him and my hopes that she would always love him as she does now. I wrote of how she charmed both her grandfathers with her constant chatter and beautiful smile. I described how she left the pew in mass one day and sat by a lonely nun and pointed to the nun’s prayer book and said, “God.” On that day, the walls between adolescence, childhood, and parenthood collapsed, while my daughter and I shared a good cry over love, the passing of innocence, and a few tattered pages of notebook paper.

Four years ago, when we spent the Christmas holiday in Ireland, my daughter sat outside on a clear, fine day and wrote these words:

When I was a young girl I would walk outside to the wide open fields of Ireland. I would think about the life at home I have. The big cities, the wide roads, and all the cars. Ireland made me appreciate the beauty of nature. I love seeing the wide open fields, Croagh Patrick’s peak in the distance and Buckagh hill in the silky clouds. I like to think about my Grandma’s life in Ireland’s past and I could not think of any better Christmas.

I have stashed away this notepad with my daughter’s words, so that I will always remember that with innocence comes great clarity and wisdom.
As I was preparing to write this February column, I went through the rituals that I always do: I poured a large cup of hazelnut coffee and filled a plate with sweets, sat by the computer, and read a bit of Yeats. I thought about how indescribably romantic it was for Yeats to pen the words, “when you are old and grey and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read of the soft look your eyes had once and of their shadows deep.” I thought of how he immortalized his unrequited love and muse Maud Gonne through his metaphors. I thought of how important it is in this age of twitters and tweets to not let go of the past, of the handwritten word, of our sense of humanness in a technological age.

Recently, my mother gave me a copy of a memoir written by her English cousin. Born in the 1860’s, this cousin grew up in a large family in Mayfield, Sussex, England. She later spent twenty years as a servant to English nobility until she finally settled down to a quiet married life in the village of Abergavenny, Wales, where she lived for sixty-one more years. The cousin ends her memoir fittingly in the year 1968, a year before I was born: “Sometimes it is good to step aside and feel the quiet peace which is there in the background or makeup of each one of us.” Truly, a love letter indeed.

*Susan holds a Master’s Degree in English from John Carroll University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Baldwin-Wallace College. She may be reached at suemangan@yahoo.com.

Ohio Irish American News ~ A Story From This Month’s Issue: Profile in Public Service

I interviewed Jim McDonnell, who is running for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor. The piece appeared in the February issue of the Ohio Irish American News:

Profile in Public Service
James (Jim) McDonnell, Lawyer, Candidate for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor

The Irish in America have always had a call to public office. Maybe it is the sense of history, and the knowledge of how a people can be treated, merely because of their name, or where they were born, not their character or their accomplishments. Public servant fields like government, police and fire have long been a way to provide for our families, while paving a path for those that come after us. Join up, and then change from within, so no one faces the same discrimination that we did; this has been a path of fierce battle, and significant success, for the Irish in America.

Attorney Jim McDonnell is one of those who has seen it, fought it, and has a dedication to forging fair roads for himself, his family, and those whose paths he crosses, both personally, and professionally. McDonnell is running for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, with the primary March 6th.

“There is a great sense of pride in being Irish, that is a typical character trait for the Irish, to not only be proud of their heritage, but to be actively involved. They tend to be eloquent, and tell a good story, to always make people laugh, and to be tough,” said McDonnell.

“My dad [Dan McDonnell] always walked with James P. Kilbane and Michael A Sweeney, as honor guard, later with Harry Hanna and Leo Spellacy, in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Our Irish roots were always intertwined; Dad’s law partners were always actively involved in public office. I am the oldest of eight children; we learned to get long, and to get involved.

“I was an Assistant Prosecutor; it was greatest job in the world. At this stage of my life, the timing is right, my experience is right. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor is a great opportunity.

“ I have three goals if elected: 1. The safety of our citizens is my first priority – I will make sure that violent criminals are dealt with appropriately. 2. I will make sure that the legacy of the office is preserved for the residents of Cuyahoga County – that things are done in the right way. 3. I will make sure the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has the best trial law firm in the state of Ohio and that all decisions are based upon the facts, without outside consideration.

“I’ve always been my own man. When I decided to run, I was adamant that no decision I made would be based upon political considerations. I have never been part of the political machine. I am Democrat, I’ve worked on campaigns for others, such as Nancy McDonnell and Issue2 (Senate Bill 5) with the Cleveland Fire Department, but I have never been a political insider.

“I was a Laborer for six years. I actively support all unions, and was proud to march with the Iron Workers in the Labor Day Parade in Parma Heights. Family is first and foremost. Give back to the community in a way consistent with your strengths – mine is coaching and mentoring young kids, I have done a lot of it, and hope to do more. I strive to do the right thing every day, treating everyone respectfully. That is how I saw my parents live their life and I try to do the same.

“I have no other political aspirations – absolutely none – it is the only job I want. I am not looking for a stepping stone. I want to be actively involved in the process, not a referee. I hope to incorporate better training, more collaboration with police, judges and lawyers, better working relationship with all the partners that are involved in the legal process. The job is defined by statute, but the responsibility is to always look at the process; if opportunities arise to do it better, fairer, we have to look at that, evaluate and decide the best course for the citizens of Cuyahoga County.”

Giving Up, for Lent

I will give nothing up, except my time.
I will say nothing more, tinged with anger
I will eat nothing less, except my pride
I will put more words to paper, and mail letters of thanks
This is for Lent,
and for all my blessings
You loved me so much
that you stretched out your arms for me
and died.

Ohio Irish American News ~ A Story From This Month’s Issue: Out of the Mailbag … Comes Songs & Stories

Out of the Mailbag … Comes Songs & Stories
by John O’Brien, Jr.

McLean Avenue, Easy & Free Temple Music (BMI) 2011. 14 Tracks, 59 minutes.

Some of our favorite music comes to us around Christmas time. Not all of it is Christmas music, of course, but this delivery had the same hallmark of tradition. McLean Avenue’s new release, Easy & Free rings of the ballad tradition, fresh and new.
Every group aims to put their own stamp on songs that are favorites for a reason, that have lasted thru generations. The trend has been to slow it way down to a lullaby or raise is up to a rock. McLean Avenue chooses to find a different, fully respectful, vibrant and alive interpretation that is authentic, fresh, and fantastic.
McLean Avenue is Padraig Allen on vocals, acoustic guitars, bass and percussion; Jessica Semins on fiddle and vocals; Martin (Buddy) Connolly on Button Accordion, keyboard, vocals; Tony Ryan on drums, percussion, vocals; Joseph (Bishop) Biancorosso on vocals, harmonica, electric/acoustic guitar.
Trad tunes, Nancy Griffith, The WolfTones, Johnny Cash, Richard Thompson, Charley Daniels Band, The Rankins, and original tunes from Allen and Biancorosso are included; the songs featured traverse the spectrum, and raise it up by the McLean Avenue stamp of original arrangement and vibrant presentation. We liked them so much that we booked them for the 30th Annual Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival this July 20-22, 2012 (www.clevelandirish.org).
McLean Avenue’s Easy & Free is a Top Shelf Selection.

See McLean Avenue at: www.mcleanavenueband.com www.facebook.com/mcleanavenueband

Ohio Irish American News ~ A Story From This Month’s Issue: Illuminations – Who Made the World?

Who made the World?
By: J. Michael Finn

I was asked by a regular reader of this column to look into the history behind the song MacAlpine’s Fusiliers. The song was written in the 1960’s by Dominic Behan. It is about Irish migrant workers who traveled to England to work in the construction industry during World War II, although it could apply to any time period.

We are all familiar with the work the Irish did in the United States. They built the canals in the 1850’s; the railroads in the 1860’s and 1870’s and the bridges and subways in the 1900’s. They built buildings of wood and later steel. As building grew taller they worked hundreds of feet in the air and they worked underground as “sand hogs” digging the tunnels under the East River and the Hudson River in New York. Since safety was not a big concern, this meant that many lost their lives in construction – the contractors thought you could always get another Irishman.

The United States was not the only country to benefit from Irish hard work. England also owes a debt to the Irish construction worker. There has always been a steady stream of Irish migrant workers traveling to England, Scotland and Wales to find work. Many of these were farm workers who traveled from Ireland to harvest crops.

Beginning about the 1850’s, there began to be a need for a heaver type of labor. England was building a canal system and needed diggers to excavate the canals. These Irish diggers were known as “navigators” or “navvies.” When the work switched to the building of the railroads, the name “Irish navvy” transferred to that job and it soon became synonymous with the Irish migrant construction worker.

Behan’s song serves as a warning to Irishmen not to go to England and work for McAlpine and his construction army of fusiliers: “Come all you pincher ladies, And you long-distance men, Don’t ever work for McAlpine.”

In England the pubs became the place for the Irish navvies to go after work. The pubs were also the hiring halls where checks were cashed and new workers were hired.

As down the glen came McAlpine’s men
With their shovels slung behind them
‘Twas in the pub they drank the sub
And out in the spike you’ll find them
They sweated blood and they washed down mud
With pints and quarts of beer
And now we’re on the road again
With McAlpine’s fusiliers

Who was McAlpine? Sir Robert McAlpine was born in 1847 at Newarthill, Scotland. He left school at the age of ten to work in the coal mines. He became an apprentice bricklayer. In 1883 he founded the Robert McAlpine Construction Ltd. and was involved in the building of roads and public buildings. He was known as “Concrete Bob.” McAlpine built up the large building and civil engineering firm that bears his name; it continues to exist today.

McAlpine was a pioneer in the use of concrete and labor-saving construction machinery. He was made a baronet in 1918. On his deathbed, Sir Robert McAlpine reputedly dictated the following edict: “If the men wish to honor my death, allow them two minutes’ silence; but keep the big mixer going, and keep Paddy behind it.”
His son, Robert McAlpine, Jr. succeeded him as baronet upon his death in 1934, but died less than two weeks later. He was succeeded in 1942 by his son Alistair McAlpine.

Just a few of the famous projects completed by the McAlpine Company and their army of largely Irish workers were the Singer Factory (1882-1885); Glasgow Subway (1892-1894); Wembley Stadium (1922-1923); and the famous D-Day Mulberry Harbors (1943-1944).

During the two world wars, England needed laborers to work heavy construction due to the large number of men who were fighting in the wars. This opened up opportunities for the Irish migrant worker. But, it was neither an easy nor a safe occupation. Using real life characters in the song, Behan correctly tells us that the work of an Irish navvy was difficult.

I stripped to the skin with the Darky Finn
Way down on the Isle of Grain
With the Horseface Toole I knew the rule
No money if you stopped for rain
McAlpine’s god is a well-filled hod
Your shoulders cut to bits and seared
And woe to he went to look for tea
With McAlpine’s fusiliers

“McAlpine’s god is a well-filled hod.” What is a hod? A lot of the construction was done with bricks. Bricklaying was a skilled profession, but bricklayers did not carry their own bricks. Bricks were carried to the bricklayer using a hod. The hod was a wooden V shaped box on a long stick. The box was loaded with bricks and given to the laborer to carry to the bricklayer. He carried it on his shoulder and used the stick to balance it. This often meant carrying the hod up a ladder and out on an often unstable wooden scaffold.

Imagine the difficulty of attempting to climb a ladder with one hand while balancing a full load of bricks on your shoulder with the other and trying to keep from falling backwards from the ladder. That “well-filled hod” often bit into your shoulder. Of course, the more bricks that were in the hod the fewer trips, so overloading the hod was a common practice. This resulted in often deadly accidents. Like the contractors in the US, McAlpine and English contractors always knew that a lost navvy was replaceable.

I remember the day that the Bear O’Shea
Fell into a concrete stairs
What the Horseface said when he saw him dead
It wasn’t what the rich call prayers
I’m a navvy short, was the one retort
That reached unto my ears
When the going is rough you must be tough
With McAlpine’s fusiliers

Like it began, Behan’s song ends with a dire warning to anyone considering the life of an Irish navvy: “If you pride your life don’t join, by Christ! With McAlpine’s fusiliers.”

There is a story that a child in the west of Ireland was asked by her teacher, “Who made the world?” Her reply was: “McAlpine, sir. And my daddy laid the bricks!” If you’re interested in reading more on this topic there is a book titled, The Men Who Built Britain: A History of the Irish Navvy by Ultan Cowley (2001). Cowley also wrote a follow up book titled, McAlpine’s Men: Stories from the Sites (2010). It contains stories, songs and tales of some of the trials and tribulations of McAlpine’s Irish crew.

*J. Michael Finn is the Ohio State Historian for the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Division Historian for the Patrick Pearse Division in Columbus, Ohio. He is also Chairman of the Catholic Record Society for the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. He writes on Irish and Irish-American history; Ohio history and Ohio Catholic history. You may contact him at FCoolavin@aol.com.