The Irish Cultural Garden is located at the Superior Avenue entrance of the Rockefeller Park Garden chain, and was dedicated in 1939. Here the Celtic cross is developed in turf, slate, and sandstone walks, and sedum-filled lunettes. Irish juniper, yew and white lilac, hawthorn, lavender and wisteria have been planted, and shamrocks, cowslips, and Shannon roses form the borders. There are beds of Killarney roses, and of the "Last Rose of Summer" species. Along a cinder path descending to the Irish Garden are planted Irish blackthorn, used in the making of a shillelagh, or cudgel. This "greenest of the park gardens" as it has proudly been called, was designed by Donald Gray. Thomas J. McManamon volunteered his services as supervising construction engineer.
An initial dedication of the Irish Garden took place on the afternoon of Sunday, May 28th, 1933, the 154th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Irish poet, Thomas Moore. The Reverend Doctor Edward A. Kirby of St. Cecilia's Parish Church delivered the principal address before an audience of 2000. Congressman Martin L. Sweeney, as master of ceremonies, introduced Cultural Garden League officers, other nationality group leaders, and specifically Mrs. Mary K. Duffy, tireless Irish group leader, together with Miss Mary Ellen Murphy, with the Garden's beginnings to its triumphant culmination. Ray T. Miller, Mayor of Cleveland, and William J. Corrigan also spoke, paying tribute to Ireland's cultural gifts to the world. Irish music was presented by the Parmadale Band and the Joyce Kilmer Gaelic-American Club Quartet.
This charming garden was realized through the efforts of the Irish Cultural Garden Association, which, under the presidency of James J. Murray, in January of 1939 raised the initial $1500 to be augmented by Federal and City funds to a requisite $45,000. The assisting committee included: (Clergy) Auxiliary Bishop James Am McFadden, Msgr. John P. Treacy, Msgr. Hagan, Reverend Michael Moriarty, Reverend Martin Gallagher (Professional) Dr. J. S. Tierney, Dr. J. J. Kelley, Parker Fulton, William J. Corrigan, John J. O'Malley, Councilman Thomas J. Gunning, William J. Donlon, Lewis Reidy (Finance) John T. Feighan, William J. Murphy, (Business) Edwin D. Barry, Thomas A. Ryan (Labor) Thomas A. Lenehan, Albert Dalton (Postal) Postmaster Michael F. O'Donnell, James L. Collins Judges) Common Pleas Judges Frandk J. Merrick and Frank S. Day, Municipal Judge Perry A. Frey, and Municipal Judge Lillian M. Westropp (Municipal Court) Frank Kelly, Martin Kinsella (Police) Captains Edward J. Flanagan and John T.
Barry Day Celebraion
Fleming (Fire) Battalion Chiefs Emmet H. Byrne and Thomas F. McManamon, Fire Secretary John F. Horan(City Officials) License Commissioner Joseph E. Cassidy (County Officials) County Commissioner Joseph F. Gorman, County Prosecutor Frank T. Cullitan, Assistant County Prosecutor James P. Hart, Sheriff Martin O'Donnell, County Clerk John J. Busher, County Purchasing Agent Leslie Monroe, Deputy County Engineer James R. Devitt, Chief Deputy Recorder Edward J. Coleman (Federal Offices) Owen Corcoran (Organizations) Patrick Lynch, Dan W. Duffy.
The Irish Garden was officially dedicated on October 29, 1939. Music was by the Parmadale Band, the fife and drum corps of the Sons and Daughters of Eire, and the West Side Irish-American Club. Under banners of orange, white and green, the Knights of Columbus in black and red garb, stood at attention. The Reverend Father Stephen Driscoll, assistant pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, blessed the garden. Common Pleas Judge Frank J. Merrick served as chairman. Principal speaker was Mayor Maurice J. Tobin of Boston, who stressed the Irish contribution to American over a period of three centuries. Congressman Martin L. Sweeney praised the Irish of the Homeland, and Mary K. Duffy also spoke. Harold H. Burton, Mayor of Cleveland, formally presented the garden to the Irish Cultural Garden Association, and Mr. John J. O'Malley, vice-president of the Association, accepted in behalf of President James J. Murray, absent because of illness. A sad note marking this otherwise gala occasion was a prayer offered by Msgr. John R. Hagan, diocesan director of parochial schools, for Thomas J. McManamon, the engineer who had given so generously of his services to the Irish Garden, and whose death had occurred the day before the dedication.
At the conclusion of the dedication ceremonies, James J. Murray, association president, ill at his home, was presented by garden officials with a gold watch in appreciation of his splendid work in making this dream of the Irish Garden come true.
At a banquet in Hotel Hollenden that evening, Postmaster Michael F. O'Donnell was toastmaster, and Bishop James A McFadden and Mayor Tobin, of Boston, and Mayor Burton, of Cleveland, were speakers.
On Sunday, May 11, 1952, Mother's Day, in a simple ceremony at the Irish Cultural Garden, tribute was paid to Ernest R. Ball, composer of many Irish ballads, including "Mother Machree." Mrs. E. C. Ingram of Lakeside, Ohio, daughter of the composer, who was born, reared and educated in Cleveland, and who was a piano teacher here during the early period of his musical career, planted a mountain laurel shrub in her father's memory. County Prosecutor Frank T. Cullitan, and Judge John V. Corrigan, then State Representative, briefly reviewed Ball's career, terming him as much responsible for the observance of Mother's Day as any other single American. In charge of this ceremony was Mrs. Mary K. Duffy, president of the Irish Cultural Garden League.
On June 21, 1953, the Reverend Patrick Peyton, famed leader of the Rosary Crusade, planted an Irish juniper tree in the Irish Garden. Father Peyton, who has travelled the world over preaching that "families that pray together stay together," recited the Rosary and delivered a short talk before a statue of the Blessed Virgin, placed in the garden for the occasion.
An interesting annual observance which has high-lighted Irish Garden history has been the Barry Day celebration held on a September Sunday each year in honor of Commodore John Barry. Born in County Wexford, Ireland, in 1745, John Barry enthusiastically espoused the cause of American independence, offering his services to the Continental Congress and being placed in command of the Brig Lexington with which he successfully engaged in many encounters. By reason of his services to his country in its early days, he became known as the "Father of the American Navy."
Officers of the United States Navy have been principal speakers at the Barry Day celebrations through the years, and include Lieutenant R. J. Mullarkey, Commander E. W. McKinley, Commander John C. Grogan, Lieutenant Commander James M. Brogan, Admiral Daniel V. Gallery, Captain Thomas B. Dugan, Admiral Daniel V. Gallery, Jr., and Commander John Thomas McLaughlin.
In 1953, Mayor Thomas A. Burke designated by city proclamation, September 13th as Commodore John Barry Day. On that day the program included the posting of the Colors by the United States Navy, the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by Jack Nealings, and Irish music and dances by Belle Conway, Patrick A. Donovan, Tom McLaughlin, Jimmy Giblin, and Tommy Byrne. Nathaniel R. Howard, editor of the Cleveland News, spoke on his recent trip to Ireland, and presented the Irish Garden with stones he brought from the home of Daniel O'Connell, known as "the great emancipator of Ireland."
Irish Garden Approach from Upper Boulevard
Of Derrynane, in County Kerry, O'Connell won restoration of Irish citizenship rights from the British Parliament in the 1840's. The stones were accepted gratefully as a permanent addition to the Irish Garden by Mrs. Mary K. Duffy, president of the Irish Cultural Garden League. Principal speaker was Lieutenant Commander R. G. O'Maley, Naval Air Station, Akron, Ohio. The benediction was by the Reverend Peter F. McCafferty, Assistant Pastor of St. Joseph's Church.
"Commodore Barry's example of selfless devotion to duty has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to sailors of every generation, "," Commander O'Maley said, in part. "He lives today whenever Americans are risking and giving their lives in conflict with the enemies of freedom…There is a fine symbolism to be found in the fact that the last command of Commodore Barry was the Frigate of the United States. When the keel, frames and deck of his last ship rotted away, long after his flag of command was hauled down, he still continued to live in the keel and framework of his larger loyalty--the United States of America."
Municipal Judge Lillian M. Westropp was general Chairman of the 1953 program, Judge John V. Corrigan was master of ceremonies, and Mrs. Mary K. Duffy, president of the Irish Cultural Garden League, was in charge of the arrangements. Other League officials assisting included Miss Mary Ellen Murphy, secretary Mrs. Jack Kelly, Mrs. Frank Damon, treasurer Mrs. Anna Davis, Mr. and Mrs. Pat Lynch (Mr. Lynch serving as Barry Day chairman), Mrs. P. J. Maloney, Mrs. Thomas Sullivan, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Giblin, Mrs. Lou Schwartzenberg, Mrs. Patrick O'Brien, and Judge Frank Merrick. The West Side Irish-American Club has also always given generous assistance. The Barry Day events are jointly sponsored by the Commodore Barry Club of Cleveland, and the Irish Cultural Garden League.
The history of Commodore John Barry, adopted patron of the Irish Cultural Garden, is the story of many Irish leaders who emigrated to America and so loved and fought so valiantly for this land. In the words of William Bell Clark, "No American naval hero has deserved of posterity greater appreciation of his career and received less than John Barry." Barry was the first captain of the first warship named after the first land battle of the Revolution. He was the first to capture a British warship and was named the first commissioned officer of the United States Navy.
In keeping with the spirit of the Barry Day celebrations and the Irish Garden are these words of Judge John V. Corrigan:
"The one principal fact that has been emphasized here is the debt which we owe all our American heroes--past, present, and future--the men who have fought and fight to preserve our freedom and our independence. The Lafayettes, the Pulaskis, the Von Steubens, the Stefaniks, and the Barrys, and all the rest have enabled us to prove to the world that all sons of men are children of God before Whom all men kneel as equals. In honoring commodore Barry we do, in fact, honor all great Americans. And on this memorial day we all can join in the prayer of the eloquent poet:
"And Thou, Oh God, of Whom we hold our country and our freedom fair,
Within Thy tender love enfold this Land for all
Thy people care.
Uplift our hearts above our fortunes high, Let not the good we have make us forget
The better things that in Thy heavens lie!
Keep still, amid the fever and the fret of all this
Eager life our thought on Thee,
The hope, the strength, the God of all the free."
The Irish Garden was, in the words of the Reverend Doctor Edward A. Kirby, dedicated "to the glory of nature and of God, to the good of our fellow-citizens, and as a memorial to the Land of Flowers--Ireland."
Set like an emerald in the Cultural Gardens chain of gems, this exquisite little garden is a symbol of universal hope, that is typical of the courageous and cheerful people who gave it.
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