Celebrating the 100 Yr Anniversary

Johnny Kilbane

Click here to hear Kevin's interview with Ireland's most popular sports radio show "Off the Ball" on Newstalk 106-108 FM. It was recorded in March 2012.

Click here to hear Kevin and Helen Applegarth (Achill Tourism Manager) interviewed by Sean Moncrieff. Sean hosts a nationally syndicated show on Newstalk radio. It was recorded live from the Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Ireland on June 8, 2012.

On February 22, 1912, Johnny became the World's Featherweight Champion by defeating Abe Attell.

Several groups in the Cleveland, Ohio area as well as groups in Ireland organized activities to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of Johnny winning the title.  See pictures below.  Events that occurred include:

  • A toast to Johnny!  Great Lakes Brewing Company tapped a special tribute beer to honor Johnny and the first pour happened at 6pm on September 25, 2012 at Great Lakes Brewpub. It is called Fighting Heart Irish Red Ale.  Part of the proceeds from the night benefited the Johnny Kilbane memorial. You can find all the details on the Great Lakes website under 'pub events' or click here. It is no longer on tap as it sold out in less than three weeks. However, occasionally Great Lakes brews up a special batch.  Keep a look out at the brewpub.

  • Premier of the original Kilbane vs Attell fight film was held at an event sponsored by the Cleveland Public Library on the evening of March 15, 2012 in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Music was provided by the Burning River Ceili Band including a performance of an original song 'A Fighting Heart' inspired by the poem written by Johnny.  Mary Harney, former Minister from Ireland, was present and eloquently spoke about Johnny and his life. The event at the main branch also kicked off the opening of a wonderful exhibit put together by the Irish American Archives Society featuring Johnny that will travel to libraries throughout the Cleveland region. 

  • Unveiling of a commemorative plaque in the Gordon Square district designating the house Johnny lived in when he returned to Cleveland after winning the title in 1912 as a historic landmark. A reception followed at Stone Mad Pub. Event was held March 16, 2012 in Cleveland.  Also, several street banners in the area were unveiled and the streets were renamed in Johnny's honor as Kilbane Town. Pictures and videos are available here.

  • A documentary celebrating the life and legacy of Johnny Kilbane. The title of the project is A Fighting Heart. The documentary was produced by Des Kilbane of Galway, Ireland. It was accepted for inclusion in the 2013 Cleveland Film Festival and made it's world premier on Sunday April 7. It was a huge success and enjoyed positive reviews from critics including John Petkovic of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. An Irish language version was finalized and shown throughout Ireland on TG4. The world premier of the Irish language version titled Croi Trodach occurred at the Galway Film Fleadh in July 2013.  The documentary has been submitted to many festivals throughout the world and has been screened at several including the Chagrin Film Festival and the Arizona International Film Festival. The film was shown on the Cleveland PBS station WVIZ on Sunday March 29, 2015 at 7pm and 11pm.

  • World renowned artist Rowan Gillespie was commissioned to create a bronze sculpture. It was unveiled in the Battery Park neighborhood (just north of 73rd and Detroit in the Detroit Shoreway Neighborhood) on September 28, 2014 at noon.  Many delegates from the Mayo Convention were in attendance as well as several dignitaries from the Cleveland area. Please be sure to visit the sculpture and let me know what you think.

  • A second documentary was commissioned by the Irish American Archives Society to document the making of the sculpture by Rowan Gillespie. It is titled Kilbanetown Comeback and was produced by Des Kilbane and Orla Higgins. It was completed in 2015 and made it's debut at the Cleveland International Film Festival in the spring of 2015.  It was also accepted and shown at the Chagrin Film Festival and the Sky Road Film Fest in Clifden County Galway. 

  • Weekend of activities to celebrate Johnny's Irish heritage June 7-10, 2012 in and around Achill, Ireland. Activities included unveiling of a statue near Patton's Pub, unveiling of a monument on AchillBeg, a boxing tournament presented by the Geesala Boxing Club at Ostan Oilean Acla and a Kilbane family gathering. Please visit http://www.achilltourism.com/johnnykilbane.html for more information. 

  • Listen to Erin and Kevin talk about their great grandfather Johnny on Gerry Quinn's Irish Radio AM 1420 Sunday morning February 12, 2012 from 10am to noon. Note: check out the archives at www.quinnirishradio.com for a recap.

  • To celebrate ‘Croi Trodach', Galway Bay Brewery produced a very limited edition A Fighting Heart Irish Ale exclusively for the screening at the Galway Film Fleadh.


  • On Sunday afternoon April 22, 2012 Kevin presented a program to the West Side Irish American Club.  Included was a showing of rare archival film footage from Kilbane's 1912 championship fight.

  • A Congressional record honoring Johnny was presented to Johnny's great grandchildren by U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich Friday night February 17, 2012 at the West Side Irish American Club. The program included a talk by Jim Carney Jr., and bagpipes played wonderfully by Mike Crawley.  For a picture of the Congressional Record, check the pictures and memorabilia page.

  • In collaboration with The Baseball Heritage Museum and the Irish American Archives Society, a program was held at League Park in Cleveland on Saturday October 10, 2015 to celebrate the 1920 championship of the Cleveland Indians and the 1921 title fight between Johnny and Danny Frush. Kevin spoke and showed rare archival footage of the fight at League Park that has recently been recovered.

  • The 2012 version of the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Cleveland was dedicated to Johnny. The weather was sunny and warm and as always it was a great day to be Irish.

  • On Thursday September 4, 2014 accomplished author Jerry Fitch gave a presentation on Johnny at the Cleveland Public Library.  After Jerry's presentation, Kevin showed some rare, never before seen footage from the Kilbane v Attell and Kilbane v Frush title fights. The program was repeated on Saturday September 6, 2014 at PJ McIntyre's in West Park.

  • On St Patrick's Day 2016, the Cleveland Clothing Company launched a commemorative shirt honoring Johnny.


  • In honor of her great-grandfather's extensive public service, Erin O'Toole decided to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Kilbane and seek election as a Judge for the Cuyahoga Court of Appeals in the March 6th 2012 democratic primary.