The Green & White

The Student News Site of Westlake High School

The Student News Site of Westlake High School

The Green & White

The Student News Site of Westlake High School

The Green & White

Home Away From Home


Recently I had the opportunity to Irish Dance at the inaugural Aer Lingus flight from Cleveland to Dublin. The event was filled with a variety of city officials and curious airport passerbyers. However we were most thrilled to meet the mayor of Cleveland, Justin Bibb. I approached him and kindly asked if we could take a picture with him. He happily obliged and my dad proceeded to send it to his cousin Patricia in Ireland. Mayor Bibb later boarded the flight to Dublin and the next day my dads cousin sent a picture of herself with the mayor. 

At surface level it doesn’t seem crazy. Ireland isn’t that big of a country. But Patricia did not live in Dublin. In fact she lived almost 4 hours north on a tiny island home to only about 2,500 people. Why would the mayor visit such a random place? After all, there are many other decently populated cities.

Achill Island may seem insignificant to the average Irish citizen, but to the Cleveland Irish it is a second home. It is estimated that 250,000 clevelanders trace their roots to the small island. That’s one hundred times more people than the current population. 

Growing up, my parents raised me with strong Irish roots. I was proud to tell people that my family was from Achill, but as I did so I realized I was far from unique. Almost every other Irish family I’d met, also traced ancestry to Achill. In fact I learned that one of my best friends was actually my fourth cousin. Our grandmothers knew each other and her family’s home in Ireland was right next to mine. Small world.

When I had the privilege of visiting Achill in June, I quickly learned that not only are Clevelanders proud of their Achill heritage, Achill is also proud of their Cleveland cousins. 

Ted’s Pub was the first place I visited on the island and when I walked in I immediately noticed a sign hanging, “Cleveland 3000 KM”. Later I visited another pub, where I began chatting with the young bartender. He said he was traveling to the states to play Gaelic Football. We asked him where in the states, “Cleveland”, he said. 

It seemed like everywhere we went someone had some connection to where we were from. My mom ran into a woman in a shop who said she had a sister from Cleveland. “She lives in Rocky River, do you know where that is?” said the woman. My mom just chuckled. On a small island, across the ocean we were constantly reminded of home.

Achill did feel like home. A place I had never been, but felt like I could never leave. The prettiest place I had ever seen. 

As our trip neared its end we still had so many questions. We visited Nevins Newfield Inn where we were able to speak with the owner John Nevin. He was the cousin of my cousin. We asked Nevin the burning question. Why do so many Clevelanders have Achill heritage? He said a man by the name of Quinn traveled to Cleveland from Achill in the 1800s to work on the gas lines. Quinn slowly brought people from his home over to help work. They settled in the Old Angle neighborhood of Cleveland and slowly but surely more and more people immigrated here.

In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. When people are leaving their country they’ll choose to live where they know people. So the community of Cleveland Irish grew and as time went on the descendants of those from Achill multiplied.

Cleveland and Achill have been sister cities since 2003. While the people of Achill and the people of Cleveland live very different lives, work very different jobs and have very different accents it’s no doubt they are proud to be twinned. 

For me, Achill will always be home away from home.

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