John Cassidy - Sculptor

This site celebrates the life and work of sculptor John Cassidy (1860 - 1939).

John Cassidy was born at Littlewood farmstead, outside Slane, County Meath, Ireland. We have heard from a number of people researching their family history, and with their help, and that of the local historians of Slane, we have collected on this page some of the things we know about the Cassidys of Slane.

If you know any more, or are interested in the family, please contact us. Irish geneaology can be a difficult and confusing subject, so any help is welcome.

John Cassidy, c.1900

'It was on the Hill of Slane, according to ancient manuscripts, that Saint Patrick lit the Pascal Fire on Easter Eve 433. There are many and varied accounts of this well known event.

'Whether by accident or design, Patrick chose a convenient site to throw down a challenge to King Laoghaire at Tara as Slane Hill holds a commanding elevated view and is easily seen from afar. The exciting train of events that ensued are reverberated around the world on March 17th each year.' - Slane Parish website

Links and references:

The Cassidy Clan website

Slane Historical Society

Slane Tourism

Slane Parish

The Irish National Archives

Slane / Town Trail, by C.E.F Trench, with drawings by Bea Orpen. Published 1987 by An Taisce Meath Association.

Special thanks to:

Doug Cassidy

Jo Callaghan

Thomas Hagood

Gerard Fleming

Frances Lee Gargan

The Cassidys of Slane

'Slane, one of the most attractive villages in Ireland, stands at the intersection of the Dublin / Derry and Drogheda / Navan roads, and is a good example of town planning by an eighteenth century landlord.' - C.E.F. Trench: Slane.

The landlord in question was the Conyngham family of Slane Castle, a stately home which dominates the village. The Conynghams purchased the estate in 1701; the present head of the family and occupant of Slane Castle is the 8th Marquess Conyngham. It is perhaps most famous today for the open air rock and pop concerts held there.

The Parish list for Slane, recorded in 1802, makes no mention of any Cassidys, although Cassidy - Ó Caiside in the Irish language - is of course an ancient Irish surname, believed to have originated in County Fermanagh in the north of Ireland.

Cassidys are now found all over the world, notable in America, where many Irish families, including a number of John's brothers from Slane emigrated from the nineteenth century onward. Many famous people have borne the name, including in recent times singers Eva Cassidy and David Cassidy; Cardinal Edward Cassidy from Australia; doctor and human rights campaigner Sheila Cassidy; and in the past notorious outlaw Butch Cassidy ... not to mention fictional movie cowboy Hopalong Cassidy.

The earliest member of John's branch of the family so far traced is his father Patrick Cassidy (1808 - 1892), who was the head of the family at the Slane farm. In the notes below, bold type indicates the children of Patrick Cassidy senior.

A headstone in nearby Grangegeeth Old Cemetery, transcribed by Paddy Lynch, Maura Roche and Nicholas Wall for the Slane Historical Society, tells its tale:

CASSIDY - Pray for the soul of Jane, beloved wife of Patrick Cassidy, Slane Commons, who died July 16th 1890. Also her husband Patrick who died April 30th 1892 aged 84 years. And four of their children who died young.

Also his son George Cassidy who died 17th November 1929 aged 76 years, whose wife Annie died 21 July 1937. Their son Patrick died 19th July 1938. Erected by their sons George and James. Their daughter Mary died 18th July 1957. And their son Thomas died 25th April 1987 aged 88 years.

Patrick's wife, John's mother, was born Jane McGorisk. We believe that is the right spelling although the baptism records of Slane church, transcribed by Gerard Fleming, who has kindly sent us a copy, show some variations, as was common at the time:

19/09/1854   Patrick Cassidy to Patrick Cassidy and Jane Macorish
16/03/1856   Margaret Cassidy to Patrick Cassidy and Jane Macgornell
17/03/1858   James Cassidy to Patrick Cassidy and Jane Macgorish   
31/12/1859   John Cassidy to Patrick Cassidy and Jane Macgorish
27/09/1862   Michael Cassidy to Patrick Cassidy and Jane Macgourish
24/07/1866   Patrick Cassidy to Patrick Cassidy and Jane Magoris

George, the eldest son of Patrick and Jane, does not appear in the baptism record, but he stayed in Slane with his wife Annie and took over the farm when his father died. 

His family appears  in the Census record for 1901, all shown as born in County Meath:

George Cassidy, Farmer, head of family, age 40
Annie Cassidy, wife, age 34, married 18 years
Janie Cassidy, daughter, age 8
Bridget Cassidy, daughter, age 7
Annie Cassidy, daughter, age 6
Patrick Cassidy, son, age 15, scholar
Mary Cassidy, daughter, age 3, scholar
Thomas Cassidy, son, age 2, scholar

Janie Cassidy, age 20, niece, domestic servant

The 1911 Census has (note the age discrepancies):

George Cassidy, farmer, head of family, age 55
Annie Cassidy, wife, age 40, married 18 years
  Children born: 10, children living: 7
Brigid [Bridget?] Cassidy, daughter, age 16, scholar
Patrick Cassidy, son, age 14, scholar
Mollie [Mary?] Cassidy, daughter, age 13, scholar
Thomas Cassidy, son, age 11, scholar
Kathleen Cassidy, daughter, age 9, scholar
George Cassidy, son, age 8, scholar
John Cassidy, son, age 6, scholar

James Cassidy, named on the tombstone above as a son of George and Annie, does not appear above. Could 'John' be a misreading of 'James'?

George and Annie's son Thomas stayed in the area, and died as recently as 1987. He, with his brothers George and James, had the duty of arranging their Uncle John's funeral in 1939, having buried their own brother Patrick the year before.  Kathleen Cassidy married into the Foley family; the writer had the honour of meeting her son Noel Foley, when a party from the Slane Historical Society visited Manchester in 2004.

Another daughter of Patrick and Jane, herself named Jane, married Bernard Callaghan (1849-1887) a carriage builder from Trim, County Meath. Their son, Edward, emigrated to the US in 1886 at the age of 14 and settled in Providence, Rhode Island;  members of the family still live in Rhode Island today. Edward's son, Joseph Callaghan, is known to have made several trips to Ireland to visit his cousin Tom Cassidy. 

Margaret was perhaps among the four children who died young, as would have been the first Patrick.

Michael emigrated to New York City, where he had three children, Loretta, Thomas and George. Loretta Cassidy travelled to Ireland and Manchester in the 1960s in search of the family history and John's works. Michael's grandson Doug Cassidy, son of George, has been of great help in the compilation of this website.

Another son of Patrick, not in the baptism record, may have been Thomas, who married Bridget Timmons: their sons James and Thomas, and daughter Sarah, all came to America and all went to the same place, Stamford, Connecticut.

They stayed with Julie Brennan - in the 1910 Ellis Island records for Thomas' entry, Julie Brennan is listed as his sister when he arrives (age 17). He departed from Queenstown, and was born in Slane. James Cassidy arrived 12 years later, in 1922 (age 28), having departed from Liverpool, (born in Slane) he died in 1959 at the age of 65 in Yonkers, NY. He was a supervisor at the Hotel Astor in New York City and is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Greewich, Connecticut. Sarah also came from Liverpool, in 1921 at age 24 - born in Slane. She lists Julie Brennan as her aunt.

It has been stated in a biography of John that 'five of his six brothers emigrated.' Of Patrick and James, mentioned in the baptism record above, and another yet undiscovered, we can at present say little.  A Christopher Cassidy was recorded as living in Slane village in 1855: any information about his connection to the family would be welcome.

As for the family farm, the site of which is shown on the above map: sadly little  - a piece of wall and a fragment of roof - remains today of the building John Cassidy knew.

Written by Charlie Hulme June 2009. Updated August 2010.