by John O’Brien, Jr.
Gaelic Football has always been a part of my life. The St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Memorial 7-a-Side tournament held May 11that the West Side Irish American Club was just the latest installment. Memories of George Dunne, who passed away at Christmastime, were interlaced with twenty-six games of men’s and women’s Gaelic football matches throughout a crisp but sunny day; faces and friends from Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Chicago … ahh the stories …
From my dad’s legacy of the 1951 All-Ireland win for Roscommon (I didn’t get those genes damnit), through the days of playing for St. Pat’s, St. Pat’s youth team under Joe Boyle, St. Jarlath’s, and then full circle, to St. Pat’s again, football has been not just an activity, but a gathering. Sundays at Gunning Field or on the road for an away game, the Irish students that stayed with us each summer and played Gaelic, the meals after at the house for the players, road trips that became infamous … the benefits and memories linger across the decades. Gaelic football is just one of the many pieces part in the fabric that weaves my life worth living.
Cleveland would be a much less vibrant place without John Sr. – who else could make broomball an Irish sport? No Irish Fest; no An Gorta Mor Memorial; fundraisers and scholarships and more than ¾ of a million dollars to charity… Helping friends in need; hospital and nursing home visits; wheeling folks to mass; things he has done I only learn about later, by chance, if at all. Love for service, Irish music, culture and all the rich heritage Ireland – and America, has to offer, irrespective of religion, race, creed or any other criteria the small minded consider important. THAT, my friends, is the most valuable legacy that he has given me – strive to remain humble, while having a generous, accepting soul.
I can’t stand people being recognized for things they have done, the differences they have made in the lives of others, after they are gone home to God – too late to hear it themselves. The difference they have made in people’s lives should be known when they are here, to hear it. I have learned that most people are stunned when they learn the personal stories of the differences they have made in someone(s) life; they had no idea.
Men for Others is the motto or creed to live by at St. Ignatius High School. I learned it from dad long before I ever set foot at Ignatius. When he reads this, he will shoot me, but that’s happened before, so – I am a fortunate son; blessed, am I. Happy Father’s Day Dad – you have made our world such a rich place, full of grace.
Fest season kickoff with The Hooley and Penn-Mar Irish Fest on the 15th, The Ohio Scottish Games the week after, and then the Ohio Trifecta, with Cleveland, Dayton and Dublin Irish Fests three weekends in a row. This is our 13thAnnual Festival Focus issue – plan your summer around the sun, and the festivals near or far. Entertainment and other fun details found at some of the very best festivals are within these pages.
You will also find the work of our columnists, now twenty-three strong, as well as guest submissions, sweet Snaps and other news of shenanigans Out & About Ohio.
This is our 150thissue. This paper probably wouldn’t be here without Dad being here. I am proud to dedicate it to him, and to all the moms & dads who enrich our world, and leave their kids with lives better than their own.
Nuair a stadann an ceol, stadann an rince
(When the music stops, so does the dance)
“Follow me where I go, what I do and who I know;
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