Edward F. Crawford, a 79-year-old Cleveland billionaire with roots in County Cork, is now expected to be named US ambassador to Ireland by President Trump around St Patrick’s day.
Crawford was a leading fundraiser for Donald Trump during the campaign in the critical state of Ohio, which Trump won easily.
Speaking about Trump during the campaign, Crawford said, “We need a positive leader. We need someone that’s going to help us make the changes necessary to put us back on track so that everyone has a chance.”
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Crawford, a self-professed “serial entrepreneur,” is Chairman and CEO of Park Ohio Holdings Corp. and The Crawford Group, both headquartered in Cleveland. With $1.4 billion in sales worldwide, they employ 4,800 associates in the U.S., China, Japan, India, Australia and Ireland. Park Ohio specializes in integrated logistics systems and manufactured products. He is a huge basketball fan.
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Crawford’s grandparents were Irish immigrants from Cork. His grandmother, Catherine McCarthy, originally came from Newmarket, Boherbue. In 1948 his father, an electrician, together with Crawford’s mother and two brothers wanted to move to California. During the move as they were traveling on Route 20 in Ohio, their car broke down. His mother found an apartment for the family in Cleveland Heights and the family stayed in Ohio, where Crawford grew up.
Crawford, who also created the Irish Cultural Garden in Cleveland, was the first non-Mayo person to be named person of the year by the Mayo Association, which has a powerful presence in the Irish community in Cleveland.
At the time (2014) he stated, “I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful decision by the Mayo Society to step out and decide to be more inclusive here. There are other great counties in Ireland. I think it gives the Mayo Society the opportunity to reach out to a broader group of individuals that, in one way or another, have contributed to the Irish sense of themselves.
Trump's previous nominee for US Ambassador to Ireland was Brian Burns, an Irish American lawyer and philanthropist based in Florida. Burns, 81, withdrew his name from the running in June 2017.
Niall O’Dowd is the author of the newly released Abraham Lincoln and the Irish -- The Untold Story (Skyhorse Press) available here.