IRISHTOWN BEND is the area along the CUYAHOGA RIVER, south of Detroit and east of W. 25th, where Irish immigrants once lived in small homes and shacks. Part of a larger area known as the ANGLE, Irishtown is centered around ST. MALACHI'S CHURCH at W. 25th and Washington. When the first Irish came to Cleveland in the early 1830s, mostly diggers and dockworkers, they lived near their work in what became 22 streets of tiny hovels. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, the growing Irish community, bolstered by refugees from the Potato Famine, spread to both sides of the Cuyahoga. Though some Irish erected homes a step above the shacks, the settlements were characterized by extreme poverty and were ripe for 19th-century diseases: cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and diarrhea infantum. Although St. Patrick parish was established on Bridge Ave. in 1853 to accommodate the growing west side Irish population. Irishtown residents in 1868 got their own church, St. Malichi's. As the Irish became more prosperous, the successful, known as "Lace Curtain Irish," looked down on the "Shanty" Irish, who resided in the Irishtown Bend area. These outcasts became extremely defensive about their territory, and many a bloody battle was fought in the Angle to level uppity intruders. Irishtown Bend, a bastion of Irish frontier life, eventually became a warehouse area.

Article Categories