Everyone enjoyed the c ountry singer Shane Phillips at our last meeting.
March 13th is our St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. Tickets are $12.00 and reservations can be made by calling Mary Ellen Grealis at 440-235-6528. The deadline for reservations is March 9th.
Lolly the Trolley will be available again on St. Patrick’s Day for the Mass and or the parade. The cost for the Mass and parade leaving from the Club is $15 or from St. Colman’s it is $10. Call Mary Ellen Grealis for tickets. The deadline for reservations is March 14th.
The Future of the West Side Irish American Club
by Peggy Calvey Patton
There are 102 Majorettes, 32 Pom-Poms and 78 Junior Fifers/Drummers for a total of 212 boys and girls coming to our club for 11 Sundays from the first week in January until St. Patrick’s Day. Why do they give up their winter Sundays to be part of a two hour regimen in discipline and demanding work? Almost all would answer that their mothers make them do it. A few would say they want to please a grandmother, or an aunt or uncle; but it’s really more than that. They know they are taking part in a beautiful tradition that honors their present and their past.
In this age of youth disengagement, taking a bus to a distant school, large suburban homes, and – other than the German Club – a scarcity of ethnic clubs, parade practice offers a sense of Irish community. It is the essence of belonging to something larger; the making of life-long friendships and a feeling of pride in the past, the tracing of parents’, grandparents’ and even great grandparents’ footsteps in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Most of all, the kids are really happy to be at practice. They love lining up on the first Sunday for the marching lines and hearing “go left”. They love learning to play the old Irish songs, to twirl the batons, and flags and pom-poms. They love sitting on the floor eating their hot dogs, marching outside on the grounds in the pre-parade drill, getting their uniforms totally completed and anticipating their participation in the parade.
The morning of the parade is akin to a wedding, with all the details and preparations coming together. The excitement and the exuberance seem to reach a pitch when they line up by the wrought iron fence to enter St. Colman’s Church. They are as ready as they can be, in procession place, uniforms perfect, routines learned, looking forward to the beautiful Mass. The Mass is a blend of religion, heritage and ritual pageantry. The Catholic faith and Ireland are intertwined with the pageantry of the uniforms, fifes, drums, precision marching and old Irish songs. The procession at the end of the mass is incredible. The drums’ thunderous beat and the fifes’ beautiful pitch fill the church as they march down the aisle beaming at their proud families. They feel Irish in every bone of their bodies.
The first sight of the WSIA Contingent on Superior Avenue cannot be adequately put into words, but pride in belonging to this organization is at the top of the list. We are the best, from the Board of Trustees, Club Members, to the Man and Woman of the Year, the Queen, the Forever Young buses, the Ladies Drill Team, the Senior Fifers and Drummers, our new Bagpipe Band, and the heart of our heart- our kids, all212 of them.
Thank you, lads and lassies for giving us another wonderful St. Patrick’s Day to look forward to. The future of our club belongs to you.
Our Queen for 2014 is Anna Therese Kilbane. She is the daughter of Terse and James Kilbane, Jr. and the Grand-daughter of Anna Rita (Dever) and James Kilbane, Sr., (both deceased), and Marie (deceased) and Donald Koenig. A graduate of Saint Christopher Elementary School in Rocky River and Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland, she also attended classes at the University of Akron. Anna works for PhyAmerica in Westlake as a Pharmacy Technician. Anna spent three years with the Bobby Masterson School of Irish Dance. She started marching with the West Side I.A. Majorettes when she was seven years old, moved up to Flag Unit., and on to Ireland’s 32 Pom Pom Unit. Anna has been marching with the Ladies Drill Team since 2004. Attending Anna in the Queen’s Court will be her younger sister Megan and her friend Alana Bendetta. Anna’s escort throughout the Saint Patrick’s Day activities will be her boyfriend, Sean Lawry.
WOMAN of the YEAR
Midge Gannon was bom Mary Catherine Ginley to John and Margaret Ginley. Pat, her only brother, gave her the nickname, Midge. She grew up in St. Colman parish, moved to St. Patrick (West Park) during high school, and graduated from Magnificat High School. Midge began Irish dancing at six years old, first with Tom Scott and then later with Kevin Shanahan. This was also her first experience with the West Side lA, where practices were held. At the age of twelve, she took her first trip to Ireland with the goal of bringing new steps back to her Irish dancing class. She and three other dancers spent two months living in Dublin with Kevin Shanahan’s sister, Murial Brown. She also had the opportunity to participate in an honor guard at the hotel in Cleveland where John F. Kennedy was staying during a campaign stop. JFK actually stopped to talk to her as he was passing by. Finally, she danced at the Burning of the Mortgage of the WSIA Club on Madison Avenue. Later, she danced as a student of Bobby Masterson and went on to assist him as a teacher at his school for many years. Her daughter, Marian, and granddaughter, Fiona, have kept her involved in the Irish dancing world. Midge has also spent a lot of time on the sidelines watching her husband, Brendan, and sons, John and Patrick, play Gaelic football.
Midge has been married to Brendan Gannon for over 46 years; they have three married children and five grandchildren: Maeve, Fiona, Colin, Gavin, and Conal!. Prior to having children, Midge worked for the East Ohio Gas Company. After that, she volunteered at St. Patrick’s School (now WPCA), which eventually led to a job she has held for thirty years working in the school library. She was also as an assistant coach for the St. Pat’s drill team.
Midge spends time working at Casey’s Irish Imports during their busy seasons. She has served as an officer for the Altar & Rosary Society at St. Patrick’s Parish WP, where she was selected as the Woman of the Year in 1998. She has also been a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association for almost fifty years, and is serving as the acting secretary this year. When it was proposed that the WSIA should start a library, Midge volunteered to help Lonnie McCauley set it up. It took a couple years of hard work to get it organized before it was ready to open for business. She has served on the Library Committee since then & has been the Chairwoman of the library for a number of years. Midge and her committee have brought in speakers on a variety of topics of interest to the club members.
MAN of the YEAR
Kevin was born in St. John’s Hospital in 1950, the third son of Mary Jane (McGilly) and John McDonough. Three more children
followed making a total of six. His older brothers live out of town, Tim in Chicago, Illinois and Paul in Boston, Massachusetts. His
younger brothers, Tom and Joe along with Karen, the lone girt of the family, all are Clevelanders. The family lived in Parma until their
move to Fairview Park in 1963. Kevin and his wife Linda knew each other at Fairview Park High School in the 1960’s, but went their
separate ways until they met again in 1980. They were married in 1983 and Kevin not only gained a wife he became a father to
Kevin and Heather (O’Malley). To celebrate Kevin & Linda’s 30th wedding anniversary and Linda’s retirement from 30 years of nursing,
they went to las Vegas and got remarried by “Elvis Presley.’ Kevin & Linda live in lakewood in a century home, built in 1903.
Kevin has been unable to trace his family roots in Ireland on either the McGilly or McDonough sides. On the McDonough side his
great-great grandparents were from West Virgina and the trails ends there, but there is no denying that he’s a true Irishman. He
always has a smile on his face, sometimes he’s wearing an apron, but always a warm greeting from Kevin.
Kevin loves to be in the kitchen and it has served him well in his professional and personal life. Starting with working at fast food
restaurants in high school and then part time catering, culminating with him being in charge of the kitchen at the county jail and
becoming the WSIA Club’s “chef extraordinaire• of our kitchen. Before this, in 1975 Kevin open a bar on Madison Avenue in Lakewood
and called it ‘Kevin McDonough’s”. In 1980 Kevin sold the bar. He started working at the Cuyahoga County Sheriffs office as a
Correction Officer, but his love of cooking eventually led him to the county jail’s kitchen where he was in charge of running the
kitchen facility where he fed 2,000 inmates 3 meals a day, for seven years. He was promoted to the Warden’s position in 2001 and
retired from the Sheriffs Office in 2010 with 30 years of service. He loved working there & still misses the friends he met there.
Kevin has been a member of the Club since 1990, a board member since 1992 and Vice President since 1994. It was shortly after
he joined the club that Helen Malloy, who was President at that time, asked him to put on a Ham and Cabbage Dinner. After that was
a success she asked him to start a Fish Fry for the Club. The Fish Fry started in the Pub with 20 or 30 people and grew to his
‘McDonough’s Brigade” serving 500 to 600 people in the Hall and Pub on a Friday night or 10 to 13 weeks each year. Kevin not only
ordered the food, planned the menu and cooked for the Fish Fries but he still does it for the Steak Roast. Pig, Roast, Ham & Cabbage
Dinner and several other Club events throughout the year. When he’s not doing this he is employed as lead Residential Supervisor
at the new Nancy McDonnell Community Based Correctional Facility at E. 34th & Broadway. It is a 200 bed facility that
diverts low-level, non-violent offenders from the state prison system with the goal of reducing criminal behavior through highly structured