Irish Immigration

The development and growth of Cleveland can be attributed to the collective efforts of the many immigrant groups that lived, worked, socialized, played, and worshiped within the city.


The Irish were one of the first ethnic communities to settle in Cleveland; their influence on Cleveland's development can be traced back to the construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal during the late 1820's.

From these early days of digging canals onward, the Irish community would continue to both shape, and be shaped by the environment around them.

These immigrants and their descendants would make their mark on the city's history through the development of businesses, social groups, religious organizations, and even gangs.



While Cleveland's Irish districts have long since disappeared, its Irish heritage can be uncovered through an exploration of the immigrants' neighborhoods, churches, schools, and workplaces.

These spaces speak to the traditions, daily routines, and aspirations of the individuals that made up the Irish community.

Pieced together, the stories that these sites offer can provide us with a better understanding of the Irish immigrant experience in Cleveland.

Back when Native Americans made camp along Lake Erie, Whiskey Island was a spit of high land rising out of the marshes surrounding the original mouth of the Cuyahoga River. Lorenzo Carter - Cleveland's first permanent white settler - chose this location as the site of his family farm. …
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St. Colman Catholic Church, located on W. 65th Street near Lorain Avenue, was founded in 1880 as a response to the rapidly growing Irish immigrant population on Cleveland's West Side. Father Eugene M. O'Callaghan, former pastor of the predominately Irish St. Patrick's Catholic…
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The first Irish immigrants arrived in Cleveland in the early 1820s, with approximately 500 Irishmen and women residing in the city by 1826. Within two decades, the number had doubled, reaching 1,024 by the late 1840s. The passing of another twenty years saw an even greater increase as the Irish…
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St. Augustine Parish was formed in 1860 as part of Ohio City's St. Patrick's Parish—one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the city. Other Tremont churches formed from St. Patrick's include Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (1871) and St. John Cantius (1899). The need for a new…
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The Cleveland Leader dubbed the west side neighborhood near Herman Avenue and West 74th Street "Kilbane Town," in honor of world featherweight boxing champion Johnny Kilbane. In March 1912, Kilbane Town was the end point of one of the longest and largest St. Patrick's Day parades in…
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On November 21, 1914, Thomas Gibbons, a switchman employed by the B&O Railroad, was shot dead near the intersection of West 75th Street and Detroit Avenue on Cleveland's West Side. It was the culmination of a more than one year-long circulation war between two of the city's leading newspapers that had now suddenly turned deadly. Was Gibbons an innocent bystander or did he get…
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