Growing Up Irish: A New Rose

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

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

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.