Honoring our Heritage at the 2016 Annual Ball

Honoring our Heritage at the 2016 Mayo Society Annual Ball

By Mary Gannon

There truly is something special about Mayo. Yes, my father was from there. And he, and his family, were instrumental in making me fall in love with Newport, Achill, Clew Bay, Westport and so many other villages, towns and landscapes that hold countless memories for me.

But there is something more. I’ve introduced this place to family and friends that have no familial connections to it and they all fall in love. When they visit, they have no serious desire to go see Galway or Dublin or Cork. They are content where they are. And, always, they all want to return.

The towns, the scenery and most importantly, the people, are what make this rugged county in Western Ireland so special. And so it’s no surprise that the Mayo Society, both here in Cleveland and in other cities around the world, has such a stronghold. We love our heritage and what better way to share it than to give back to others and share the wealth that is Mayo.

2016 was my third time attending the Mayo Society of Cleveland’s Annual Ball, held October 15. Like so many events in the Cleveland Irish community, this evening brings together legends from Mayo as well as politicians and local businessman, and dignitaries from across the globe.

The event had a different vibe this year, recognizing as its honoree Paul Dolan, Chairman and CEO of the Cleveland Indians, who “attended” remotely via prerecorded video, as he was in the middle of the American League Championship Series. The award ceremony was light and humorous, as Dolan joked about his lack of knowledge of his Irish heritage but saw in this award an opportunity to become more invested in Irish culture and namely, in Cleveland’s Irish community.

A special treat this year was music by Cleveland favorite Mary’s Lane, who played a mix of music to get attendees young and old out on the dance floor. How could anyone not jump up with excitement hearing a cover of The Saw Doctor’s hit, The Green and Red of Mayo?

Like so many events, there were speeches and presentations, but when the end goal is to give back to our Irish community and to also provide scholarships for exchange programs between students at John Carroll University and National University Ireland Galway, how can one complain? You’re having a night out at a black-tie affair, sharing your history and culture and wealth with friends old and new, to help spread the love for all things Mayo. You can’t go wrong.

It’s always great to head downtown for a night on the town, and next year will be no different. And who knows whom the honoree may be in 2017? It may be a long-time friend who you’ve known your entire life, or someone completely new to the Cleveland Irish community like Dolan. Either way, it’s a great chance to show your true colors and hopefully, those are green and red.