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Out & About in Cleveland

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An Irish brunch at Claddagh's and the 24th Annual Pig Roast at the West Side Irish American Club

On Sunday, October 19th, we had a good time and learned a lot by attending two Irish events. First, we gathered at Claddagh’s Irish Pub in Legacy Village in Lyndhurst for another outing of the Cleveland Food Passport Adventurers, this time a “traditional Irish breakfast.” There were quite a few of us in attendance including Margaret Wong and Cecilia Wong; in fact three long tables were completely full. We sat next to three people that we really liked getting to know who were Mr. Timothy J. Ensch from the U.S. Small Business Administration; Ms. Kelli Coleman, who was here with her granddaughter Gia, who owns K-9 Kingdom which sounds like an ideal place to board your pet because no kennels are used so the dogs can run safely free 24 hours a day; and Mr. Bruce Greig, who is a pipe major/bagpiper with “Pipes and Drums” at the East Side Irish American Club where we are members. As usual, Debbie Hanson and Dan Hanson arranged for several speakers to talk about the food and culture of Ireland. First, Mr. Bob Cannan, Area Director for the Claddagh’s Irish Pub chain, talked about the history of the Claddaugh ring and what its significance. We learned that the crown stood for strength, the heart for love and the hands for friendship, and the way in which it is worn could mean if a person was open for a relationship or was already committed. Then Chef Karen McMonghan discussed what the traditional foods are in Ireland and what is commonly eaten there now. Chef McMonghan is in a good position to know because we talked to her briefly before we left and found out that she is from Ireland and has been here for two years on a five year work visa. Breakfast (actually it was closer to brunch) was delicious. It consisted of several types of meat including ham and sausage, toast, eggs and beans. For dessert we were treated to a small cup of bread pudding. Since we do not eat meat or dessert, we gave these things to Gia (all right, we did have one bite of the bread pudding) who was quite happy to receive them so we trust they were more than tasty. The toast, eggs, and beans could not have been better, though. Mr. Greig turned out to be a very pleasant conversationalist. We learned that he is mostly Scottish and his parents immigrated to the United States after World War 1. He grew up in Cleveland and loved to attend the Scottish picnics in Euclid Beach Park where he started being attracted to the Scottish bands when he was five years old and by the age of eight he had began to play the drums. But when he was ten years old he switched to bagpipes and has been playing them ever since. He has played all over the United States and Canada and in Europe and the British Islands. He has been with “Pipes and Drums” at the East Side Irish American Club since 2001. Mr. Dan Hanson gave a brief presentation about Ireland and the Irish in Cleveland. From Dan, we learned interesting things like 80% of the Irish who have immigrated here came from Mayo County. We also learned that the typical saying posted on the wall in an Irish home is, “May those who love us love us. And those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. And if he doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles, so we will know them by their limping.” Our late morning/early afternoon ended with Mr. Greig playing some selections on his bagpipes such as “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.” We discovered that we had three former presidents of the East Side Irish American Club with us there who were Mr. Pat Coyne, Mr. Bruce Greig, and Ms. Debbie Hanson who wrapped things up by telling us that, due to the upcoming holidays, this would probably be the last outing for this year of the Food Passport Adventurers so, “Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!!!” and “as they say in Ireland, Slainte!” Our second Irish event was the 24th Annual Pig Roast at the West Side Irish American Club organized this year by Mr. Dan Flick. We weren’t sure that we would be able to attend until the last minute and we didn’t have a ticket but we decided to go anyway and take our chances. And things turned out okay! We walked into the club and there were a number of people gathered around the TV drinking beer and bemoaning the imminent defeat of the Browns. We asked a man if we could still by a ticket and he smiled and silently reached into his pocket and handed it to us and we handed him our money and that was that. It turned out that he was Mr. Dick Swarm, a good friend of Mr. Dan Flick. Mr. Swarm was in a good mood in spite of the Browns having a bad day. Dinner was served and we enjoyed some great salad, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and warm brown bread rolls. We told Mr. Flick that his efforts had paid off and he was very glad that we liked the food and the party that accompanied it. They had a good band called EZ Lovin’ Band playing 50’s and 60’s music and we gave their agent our information in case they had contacts in other countries that might need our help with visas. We were also fortunate because we got to sit with Mr. Jack Nairus, Area Coordinator Office of Finance Program Services with the Ohio Dept. of Education. We discussed foreign born students who have immigrated to the United States with their families. Before we left, we picked up a flyer from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform urging all Irish Americans in Ohio to contact their Congresspersons and “tell them that Irish America support immigration reform and they should too!” as well as remind their legislators that in the last census almost 15% of all Ohioans claimed Irish heritage which is also 1.7 million people. Since we, ourselves, also support comprehensive immigration reform we want to check out this group’s website which is www.legalizetheirish.org and learn some more about them.

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