The roots of the Gaelic League of Central Ohio began in 1987 when two self-taught Irish speakers, Ron Crow and Larry O'Callan came together to speak Irish. It was Ron Crow's idea to gather a group of Irish sparkers and form a group that would begin teaching the Irish language to others in the community. Pat Flanagan and his uncle, Father Andrew Nugent, joined the small group, who met at the Columbus Public Library. Soon it was decided to organize a beginning Irish language class. Advertising brochures were prepared to promote the class with the slogan, "Learn Irish Before St. Patrick's Day." On January 11, 1988 the first Irish language class was begun. It was a 10-week class and was held at St. Patrick's Social Hall. Over 20 people signed up for the first class. Many Gaelic League charter members came form that class, such as, Anne Daly Flanagan, Michael Finn and Gail Westbrook.
When the first class ended many of the participants continued to meet in order to further their education in the language. On April 11, 1988 an organizational meeting was held. Conradh na Gaelige í Lár Ohio was officially established and elections were held. Ron Crow was elected President (Ard Rí) and Pat Flanagan was elected Treasurer.
The Gaelic League began a period of remarkable success. With humble beginnings and not a lot of members the Gaelic League began planning its first public event an Irish language Mass. The first Mass was held on Sunday, June 12, 1988 at Our Lady of Peace Church in Columbus, Ohio. The Gaelic League's good friend and spiritual guide, Monsignor Donal O'Carroll, celebrated the Mass, held in honor of St. Columcille. The Gaelic League members did the readings and provided the music and songs for the Mass. Initial fears by the group that no one would show up were proven unfounded when over 200 people packed the church. This service was the first Irish language Mass held in a parish church in Columbus.
The first Mass generated considerable public interest in the language. So much so that a second beginning class was scheduled for June 27, 1988 at the Shamrock Club hall in Columbus. It was also a 10-week course and added Paul and Kathy Krumm to the small but dedicated group of Irish speakers.
The Gaelic League continued to grow and became not merely an organization but a group of friends, all working together toward a common goal. More Irish language beginning and advanced classes were scheduled and the group officially became a branch of the Gaelic League parent organization in Ireland. In 1989 the group participated as a unit in the Columbus St. Patrick's Day parade, proudly displaying its homemade banner. That year it also issued its first newsletter, An Páipéar Bán. A trip to Ireland followed in July 1989. Its first Irish Language Masses held outside of Franklin County were held at Dayton (1989) and Steubenville (1990). By 1992 the group had organized a total of five Irish language Masses.
On January 17, 1992 the first Douglas Hyde Birthday Party was held at St. Patrick's Social Hall. Named for Douglas Hyde (1860-1949), Irish Language scholar, who co-founded the Gaelic League in 1893. A dinner was held, followed by a Traditional Music session. It was the public response to this music session that would convince the Ancient Order of Hibernians to add Irish traditional music to its regular entertainment schedule at Tara Hall. Traditional music has since become a staple of Irish groups in Columbus.
On January 23, 1992 the first Irish History Roundtable was held at the Grandview Municipal Building. This began a Gaelic League institution that is still active today providing monthly lectures and discussions on Irish History at Ohio Dominican College.
In May 1994 the Gaelic League sponsored its first Gaelteacht Weekend at the P.I.M.E. Seminary in Newark, Ohio. The three-day Irish immersion weekend drew over 23 participants. On November 14, 1998 the Gaelic League conducted its first out of state Mass held in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Each year the group schedules new beginning Irish language classes. In recent years the demand for the language has been sufficient that two beginning classes can be held.
The Gaelic League of Central Ohio continues to grow and thrive. Ron Crow's idea has become a major part of the Columbus and Ohio Irish cultural scene. Those who were around before 1988 know that this small band of friends has forever changed the Irish cultural landscape of Columbus. The Gaelic League has trained over 1,500 people in the Irish language, exposed many to Irish History, conducted over 25 Irish language Masses and is responsible for the revival of Irish traditional music in Columbus, Ohio.