2015 Mayo Ball Recap

2015 Mayo Society of Cleveland Annual Banquet and Ball

By JC Sullivan

Once again, as in the previous 10 years, Irish Cleveland sparkled with conversation, song, laughter, friendship, beauty and charm.  Our Mayo Society Ball is the Irish cultural highlight of the year.

Although many guests could rightly claim the moniker “Honorable”, one was particularly suited for it – Ohio Supreme Court Justice the Honorable Terrence O’Donnell, a grandson of County Mayo and our 2015 Mayo Person of the Year. A video was shown that featured Justice O’Donnell as the Person of the Year.

We were also graced by the presence of another special guest this year, newly-appointed Consul General of Ireland for the Midwest Orla McBreen. “I thought it was a great event with a great turnout,” said McBreen.  She was impressed by an exhibit titled “The Tuke Assisted Emigration Scheme”, aka the “Blacksod Bay Emigration Project” that occurred in 1883-1884.  3,300 immigrants from northwest Mayo communities and Achill left for North America, with a notable number ending up in Cleveland. Mc Breen also spoke of the improvement in the Irish economy, referencing the contribution of the Irish Diaspora in America.

President and founder of the Cleveland Mayo Society, Gerry Quinn, was presented with the Founders Award of a hand blown glass, hand-painted plaque of the Mayo Crest. He was also awarded a Freedom of Mayo Golf Declaration which permits him to golf for free on any of seven Mayo Golf Courses.  He said, “Because all of you in this community support us we, in turn, can help fund the restoration of the Irish Cultural Garden and the Johnny Kilbane Memorial Sculpture at Battery Park, Cleveland.  We also fund a scholarship program for students with John Carroll University and National University Ireland, Galway.”  This year’s recipients were Shawn Breslin and Maura Farr, both John Carroll Students. The Galway Scholarship recipients were Lorna McLoughlin and Sinead Ni Bhearra.

Also in attendance were Galway University Foundation Executive Director Tom Joyce, Seamus & Nuala Kavanaugh and Liam & Anna O’Coinne. David Kleinberg, PhD., Assistant Director of the Center for Global Education represented John Carroll University.

World renowned entertainer James Kilbane, accompanied by members of the Cleveland POPS Orchestra, performed a variety of Irish pop and American Rock and Roll tunes that got people out on the dance floor. Kilbane has attended our annual Ball each year and has many friends and relatives in Cleveland. The Brian Bigley Band provided traditional Irish music at the ball and for the VIP reception.

Once again, visitors from Ireland came to bolster already-strong ties between us. Mayo County Chief Executive Peter Hynes and Martina Hughes, Communications Director came were here to accomplish just that. Other officials from the Mayo County Council and the Achill Island Development Company were Mayo County Councillors Chairman Michael Holmes, Henry Kenny, Annie May Reape, Rose Conway Walsh and John Gallagher.  From Achill Island and Blacksod Bay County Mayo were Terence Dever, Kenneth Deery, Jacqui Monaghan, Ann Kilbane, Rosemarie Geraghty and Linda McGing. In attendance once again were John and Ann Garvey from the Mayo Society of New York.

Plans are developing on a date and venue for the 2016 Mayo Society of Greater Cleveland’s Annual Ball.