This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor John
Cassidy (1860 - 1939).
We visited Drogheda in 2007 to see the town and visit the Highlanes
Gallery with its two Cassidy paintings, both of which date from c.
1880. Above is 'Street Scene in Drogheda.'
The skyline is much the same over a century later.
'The Bathe House' no longer exists...
... but the Georgian buildings to the left of the view from the corner
of Shop Street still have the same look.
While in Ireland, John saw himself as a painter; he does not seem to
have realised his skill as a sculptor until he arrived in Manchester.
The self-portrait illustrated above is now in a private collection in
Special thanks to Doug Cassidy, Jo Callaghan, and the staff of the
For more about Slane and the Cassidys, see our feature The Cassidys of Slane.
John Cassidy's Early Life in Ireland
A page to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of John Cassidy's birth on 1
This picture from the Cassidy family collection, labelled 'the old
home', is believed to show the Farmstead outside Slane, County Meath,
Ireland, where John was born in the early hours of 1 January 1860.
As a teenager, he served an apprenticeship as a bar assistant
at the White Horse hotel in the nearby town of Drogheda in County
Louth. The hotel is still in operation in the town centre, although
renamed the Westcourt Hotel: it is seen in the centre of the picture
above. John spent much of his free time sketching and painting, and
attended classes with artist Laurence Fagan of Trinity Street, before
securing the patronage of a local merchant, Mr R.B. Davis, who bought
of his paintings, two of which (see left column) were later presented
to the town of Drogheda and are now in the Highlanes
Gallery there, which also has several works by Laurence Fagan.
Mr Davis paid for the young Cassidy to attend art classes in
Dublin. It has been written that he won a scholarship to study in
Milan, although we have discovered no record of such a trip - what we
do know is that by 1884 he was a student at the Manchester
School of Art, winning the first of his many prizes, a 'Council
Prize, value £2, for the best Modelled Design.' The
Annual Report of the School for 1884 adds:
It was with very much pleasure
the Committee awarded this prize for a panel very pleasingly rendered
in low relief. The progress which this work marks is highly creditable,
considering the short time the Modelling Class has been established.
The following year, 1885, he won a silver medal and various other
prizes at the National Competition held at South Kensington, by 1887 he
was working as an Assistant Teacher at the School, and the rest is
This cabinet photograph from the family collection is the earliest we
have, and was probably taken in Ireland. The moustache was John's
trademark for the rest of his life.
Written by Charlie
Hulme, January 2010