In November 1959, 18-year-old Patricia Hollywood left her family and boarded the ocean liner Britannic, departing from her seaside home in Ardara, County Donegal. "I had just finished school," says Hollywood, Cleveland's 2015 Irish Mother of the Year. "America was a big drawing card." Three years later, Hollywood appeared on The Mike Douglas Show as winner of the Miss Cleveland crown in the Irish American Pageant. Returning to Ireland in 1969, she married and started a family before relocating to Cleveland for good in 1986. Hollywood now serves as owner and president of the Travel Connection in Aurora.
In 1959 I sailed out of Cobh, County Cork. The passengers stood on the deck singing some Irish folk songs as we watched the Emerald Isle fade from our view. It was very moving. There was a lot of camaraderie on board. We were all pursuing the American dream. There was a sense of sadness but also a sense of adventure, wondering what America was going to hold for us. It was November and the Atlantic was very rough. The waves were 30 feet high. I remember a priest walking the decks with me and telling me not to stay below. My traveling companions stayed below decks where people were getting sick. I didn't see them until we hit New York City. It was a different experience coming back here in 1986. Uprooting our children from their home was a calculated risk. We never regretted the decision and, over time, the kids learned to view America as their new home. Our religion, music and traditions are important, but family is the most important. — as told to Barry Goodrich
Amp up your Irish quotient by learning the language or playing the most celebrated sport.
Irish culture comes alive each Tuesday and Thursday night in the basement party room at P.J. McIntyre's Pub in Cleveland's West Park neighborhood. Kaetlyn McCafferty's Irish language lessons draw about 50 members, from beginners to those brushing up on the language, which has four distinct dialects. "The Irish are a humorous people and their expressions are funny," says John O'Brien Jr., sponsor of the class and publisher of the Ohio edition of the Irish American News.
Gaelic football, the most popular sport in Ireland, is one of the few true amateur competitions remaining in the world. The Cleveland St. Pat's Gaelic Football Club, which plays games from Memorial Day through Labor Day against clubs from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati and Detroit, has kept the tradition alive since 1948. "It's a combination of basketball, volleyball, soccer and rugby," says Mark Owens, a current member of the St. Pat's club that won three national titles from 1962 to 1964.
Taste of Ireland
One of Patricia Hollywood's fondest childhood memories is of her mother's Irish porter cake, made with Guinness stout. "It was a treat," she says. "She would make this for special occasions like Halloween and Christmas. She put a ring or a sixpence wrapped in paper inside the cake. If you got the ring, you would be the first in the family to be married. If you got the coin, you would be the wealthiest in the family."
Irish Porter Cake
1 cup Guinness or Murphy Irish Stout
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
6 cups mixed dried fruit (equal quantities currants, raisins, sultanas with peel)
4 cups sieved flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon mixed spice
Grated rind from small lemon (optional)
3 medium eggs
Melt the butter and sugar in the Guinness in a saucepan.
Add the fruit and simmer for 10 minutes.
Cool and add the sieved flour, baking soda, spices and lemon rind.
Beat the eggs and mix in with a wooden spoon.
Pour into a greased 9-inch cake tin and bake for 1-3/4 hours.
To test the cake, push a skewer into the center. If ready, the skewer will come out clean.
Allow the cake to cool. Store in airtight tin.