Gerry Quinn was the first president of the Irish American Club East Side. He gave these remarks on the 45th anniversary of the club.
As we conclude our 44th and begin our 45th year as the Irish American Club East Side it is only fitting we take a few minutes tonight and acknowledge our past success and explore our future aspirations and ambitions.
Forty-five years ago, on a cold snowy Superbowl Sunday, in a place called O'Brien's by the tracks, this organization drew its 1st breath in the presence of 17 individuals. Thankfully, a few of that original group are still here. It is important to remember that up until the founding of this club there was little Irish activity on the East side from the mid 50's till 1978.
Gerry Quinn speaking
The rapid growth we experienced was phenomenal and newsworthy. It captured the imagination of Clevelanders to such an extent that there was an ancestry research frenzy to find one's Irish heritage no matter how little it may have been. Hundreds sought to be a part of this exciting movement and within a few short years the membership soared to almost 4000 members.
Just a few years after our founding, Bill Homan was charged with finding us a place of our own. He found this old furniture store and here we are tonight 45 years later. Volunteerism flourished; every skill imaginable went to work to build this place into a modern club facility. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the valued assistance we received from the WSIA. Many of their members helped with the construction on what you see here today. They are still supporting us as they are here tonight.
Do you know that this is the only club in America that has a former 3-time elected mayor and also a high school president on the board of directors. Yes, Bill Cervenik just accepted the position as treasurer. It is a critical and challenging position and we thank him for his service.
The world we live in today is very different from 45 years ago, even 10 years ago and that is precisely why the methods of yesteryear will not work today. Networking back then was Mary Therese Hurley, Dolly Luskin and Ann Carney calling everyone they knew, and there were hundreds, and asking them to fill a table for every event. Today, we try to keep up with advances in technology and our present-day techies have good success but it is increasingly difficult to fill those tables at events.
Gerry Quinn, Jack Murphy and Mickey Coyne
In order for the next generations of Irish Americans to celebrate another 45 years, some changes must be made. First, we must harness the talents of the many Irish Americans that are members and potential members. There are many technology experts that can lend their knowledge. We have to change the way we raise money, the type of events, the type of entertainment and the way we communicate with the community in general
We will always be a family organization that serves our Irish American community. I recall fondly the early days I spent in this very hall as our children learned to play music, to march and dance and they grew to be better citizens because of it. You and I should be eternally grateful to those who taught us that ethnic pride is a virtue we should pass on to our children and grandchildren. The varied progress of our predecessors and their contributions to the development of this club will not dim or diminish with time.
So, as we celebrate the achievements of the Irish American club east side, let us also recognize and acknowledge the country that gave us all a chance to succeed. America has always been the last great hope of mankind, and especially Irish immigrants. May it always be a beacon of inspiration and light to all who seek a better life for themselves and their families. All of us take great pride in our ancestral homeland but first and foremost we are proud Americans.
From my own perspective, I came to America as a young immigrant. I was so lucky to arrive in a city that welcomed me and gave me the opportunity to earn a living. I am forever grateful to Cleveland Ohio and the IACES for your kindness and support for so many years.
A toast to 45 years
One of my favorite poems is called Dawn on the Irish Coast or the Exiles Return. I'm sure many of you have heard at least one verse before.
Tanam an Dia! But there it is!
The dawn on the hills of Ireland
God's angels lifting the nights black veil
From the fair sweet face of my sire land
O' Ireland isn't it grand you look
Like a bride in her rich adorning
With all the pent-up love in my heart
I bid you the top of the morning.
Now Fuller and truer the shoreline shows
Was ever a scene so splendid
I feel the breath of the Munster breeze
Thank God my exiles ended
Old scenes old songs old friends again
The vale and the cot I was born in
O Ireland up from my heart of hearts
I bid you the top of the morning.
Thank you for listening and may we all meet here again this time next year.
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