Firm Foundation: Terry Kenneally

Firm Foundation: Terry Kenneally
By Ken Callahan

In his 2013 novel “Transatlantic”, Dublin born author Colum McCann weaves a historical narrative that explores the interaction between the people of the Irish Republic and Americans, culminating in the perils-of-pauline story of U.S Senator George Mitchell achieving the multi-party Good Friday Agreement.

And others have pointed out that while the first Irish immigrants arrived here in the middle of the 16thcentury, there will never be a last Irish immigrant, as Irish people arrive to stay in the U.S. as part of an unending historical continuum. 

Terry Kenneally, long a stalwart of the local Irish American community, is a part of that transatlantic mixture of the peoples of Ireland and America, having visited the Republic, with wife, kids and grandkids, twenty-four times. And like many Irish and those of Irish descent, the Keneally’s commitment to Ireland was born of the Great Hunger, an event that remains in its stark terror central to their shared experience.

John Kenneally, Terry’s great-grandfather was born in Lismore, County Waterford in 1842 and traveled with his family in 1852 to the America via Liverpool. The Keneally’s have long been union ironworkers to make their way in the new country.

Terry grew up in St. Philomena, an east side Irish parish located in East Cleveland on Euclid Avenue, and then presided over by Monsignor O’Donnell. His parents, Jim and Mae Kenneally, had the late Shirley, Patricia, Terry and Tim (now departed). St. Phil’s grade school was run by the Ursulines. 

Terry did not join his siblings at Shaw High, but instead was recruited by Holy Name High to play football by Coach Carl Falivere. So, for four years, Terry took three buses and a rapid every day to commute from East Cleveland to Holy Name.

Terry was a tailback in the “single wing” offense of the time, which was primarily a running back offensive scheme with little passing. After graduating Holy Name in 1967, when he was again recruited, this time being offered a full ride to the University of Toledo for their football program through Coach Frank Lauterber.

On graduation, Terry briefly worked as a police officer in Highland Heights. He later attended the of Akron Law School while at the same time adjusting claims for Allstate.

Terry began his legal career with the now defunct but at one time storied law firm of Meyer, Hentemann, Schneider and Rea, doing insurance defense work. He later started Keannealy and Associates in 1990, where he continues to defend insurers against personal injury claims. During his long career, Terry says he has tried 400 jury trial to verdict in 30 Ohio counties. He is joined in practice by his son Sean and has son Terry and daughters Erin and Brianne, with his wife Susan.

Growing up in St. Phil’s, Terry Kenneally said his parents instilled the values of hard work and dedication into he and his siblings. “Dad being an iron worker was not easy labor—but he never missed a chance to build a strong family nor a football game.

Terry’s passion has been to promote Irish culture. He obtained a Masters in Irish studies from John Carroll, which has allowed him to teach Irish History at Holy Name High School, where he recently departed after a four-year stint as the school’s principal. “It has given me a lot of pride to promote my heritage.” Terry is an avid reader, as evidenced by his book reviews for this newsmagazine.

Thus, do the bonds between Ireland and America continue.

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