by JC Sullivan

As a child, at a time when our family had not yet expanded to nine children, we lived for a period of time on Ansel Road on Cleveland’s East Side. I am told that my mother, a southern belle, would take me on walks through the elegant then-Liberty Blvd, now Martin Luther King Blvd. It is situated on tree-lined land the late John D. Rockefeller bequeathed to Cleveland, where it remains a living legacy. With its gracefully designed bridges of Charles F. Schweinfurt, not only  is it a Cleveland gem but an Ohio, United States and world one-of-a-kind. It began with the dedication of the Shakespeare Garden, now the British Garden, on April 14, 1916.

sullivan-pic1aThis year I was fortunate to have been extended an invitation to the dinner event from my friend Gerry Quinn , host of WHK’s Sunday morning Gerry Quinn Irish Radio Show. The event, at the InterContinental Hotel Ballroom, celebrated the on-going building/expansion of the Gardens.  Although I’ve been to the Gardens more than once, I learned many things at the dinner that I hadn’t know before, like there are currently twenty-nine established gardens, eight in the development stage and eight that are at the initial stages of the process.

“The mission of the Gardens is the spreading of Peace through Mutual  Understanding, which is more important today than ever.  They are a showcase for the ethnic communities in Cleveland and are a living testament to the good that humanity can create for the benefit of all mankind,” said Sheila Murphy Crawford, President of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation.  Murphy believes the diverse communities, and our capacity to appreciate the efforts of the early artisans, along with the sheer beauty of the land, are elements to know what it will take to move the Gardens forward another one hundred years and make the phenomena that are the Gardens more important than ever. “The Cultural Gardens will persevere because of the strength of its people.”

Ed Crawford, Chairman Crawford Companies; Orla McBreen, Irish Consul General; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.
Ed Crawford, Chairman Crawford Companies; Orla McBreen, Irish Consul General; Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

The main speaker this evening was Chris Ronayne, President of University Circle, Inc. He spoke of his emigrant forbearers who came to Cleveland with  not much more than a love of freedom. He also reminded us to welcome the immigrant and to remember the motto of the United States, E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.

sullivan-pic3aTo mark the 100th anniversary, the Federation will construct a Centennial Plaza. It will be used as a gathering place for concerts and other performances, notably One World Day. For the 71st year it will  be held on August 28, 2016 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. More can be learned from Dedicated to all the ethnic groups that have made the city, state and nation, and If you’ve never visited the Gardens, make this the year you do. It will be closed to traffic on One World Day, with shuttle busses to take you along.

Photos compliments of “Irish Cultural Garden,” Cleveland Historical, accessed May 9, 2016, and JC Sullivan.