Firm Foundation: Pat Campbell,
Owner, P.J. McIntyre’s Irish Pub and Brady Campbell School of Dance
by Ken Callahan
Living in Ireland in the late ‘70s as my brother Kevin and I did—a pre-Celtic Tiger, deeply devotional island—we could not help but to be amazed by the peculiar place that Public Houses had in the social lives of the native Irish: in Dublin, the dark and masculine décor, the snuggeries, barmen wearing white aprons frowning in disapproval at unaccompanied women (many places would not serve a woman a pint and would bring two glasses of Guinness instead to preserve the lady’s dignity); and the warmth and family atmosphere in the pubs in the West, kids with parents, maybe a fiddle and a pair of spoons in the corner.
Patrick Joseph Campbell, owner and operator of P.J. McIntyre’s, the landmark at Kamm’s Corners, manages to preserve the unique atmosphere of the Irish Public House in the heart of Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood. Indeed, Patrick and his extended family are in many ways at the center of much of the Cleveland Irish American community.
He is the son of Patrick (Paddy) Campbell and Mary McIntire Campbell; his dad joined his siblings and Uncle Pete and Aunt Ann Campbell in the early 1960s from Ballycroy, County Mayo, to find work, as their parents died early. Patrick’s mom, Mary McIntire’s people, are from Newport and Achill. Paddy was a Laborer with Local 310 for over 40 years.
The couple had two other kids, Pete and Colleen Campbell, and resided in the St. Vincent De Paul Parish. (A random irrelevancy: my Great Uncle, Fr. Ken Mullholland was stationed there, and later became Pastor at St. Malachi and Chaplain for the Cleveland Fire Department). Patrick is a 1995 graduate of St. Edward High School and attended John Carroll University.
The extended Campbell and Leneghan family have celebrated their Irish heritage in a number of venues for many years, including the Blarney Stone, Stone Mad, The Treehouse, The Pride of Erin and The Colonial Boy—many Greater Clevelanders of a certain age will recall the repeated play of “The Men Behind the Wire” from the CB jukebox.
P.J.’s is the product of the hard work of Patrick and his cousin, Tom Leneghan, whose team rehabbed the old West End Appliance in 2007 and created the bar and restaurant it is today. Indeed, he is no stranger to hard work; in addition to the pub, he is a firefighter for the City of Cleveland and teaches Irish dance, which activities combine to make a long work week.
Patrick fondly recalls dancing for Bobby Masterson, enabling him to travel to Ireland on a number of occasions for the World Championships. It was in Newcastle, England that he met his wife, Dublin – born Rebecca Brady Campbell, when the pair were auditioning for “Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance, in 1998. They have three children, Charlie (14), Cillian (10) and Ciara(8) and are active members of Holy Trinity parish.
Growing up in an Irish American household had a profound effect on Patrick’s formation as an adult. “I was always taught to use my faith to guide me in anything I did. There were some tough times growing up, but my parents always instilled in us that family is most important, and everything will be okay. We always had support from one another. To this day, our Campbell/McIntyre families are close. We were taught to never give up and try our hardest.”
PJ’s has opened up its doors to support the Irish American community in the area, a group he finds “amazing.” The pub has Irish language classes, and sponsors the Great Lakes Pipe Band, West Side IA Pipe Band, Gaelic Football Club, and Brady Campbell Irish Dance School, among others. At PJ’s, you can smell turf burning in the fireplace while enjoying the house band, Marys Lane, while sipping the porter.
Patrick Campbell is constantly in awe of the Irish American community in Cleveland, who, he claims, are “always looking out for one another and are extremely supportive.” Through hard work and with the support of family, Patrick Campbell has imported to Greater Cleveland the social cohesion of the public house which so pervades Ireland to this day.
*Callahan is a retired Common Pleas Judge and one of the founders of the Irish American Law Society of Cleveland.