Cork goldminer Nellie Cashman set for honour

An east Cork woman who successfully led a 77-day expedition to rescue 100 gold- miners trapped in freezing conditions in British Columbia in the 1800s is being honoured in her home town, writes Christy Parker.

Nellie Cashman had earned the title of ‘The Angel of the Cassair’.

A formidable woman, she had also persuaded legendary marshall Wyatt Earp to allow Sunday mass services in a Tombstone saloon.

The 19th century Midleton-born goldminer, church founder and charity worker will be immortalised locally.

A Galway-born psychiatrist, now living in Canada, is to attend a public declaration in Midleton next Saturday for a memorial event.

UCG graduate Dr Patrick (Perry) Lydon emigrated to Canada in 1975 before obtaining a fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians.

Based in Victoria in British Columbia, Dr Lydon is engaged in erecting a monument at Ms Cashman’s grave in Canada and is also writing a book about her.

Deeply interested in the history of gold prospecting, Dr Lydon is on a personal visit to Ireland. His visit to east Cork on Saturday next will partly endorse a public sculpture programme in Midleton where the abolished town council had commissioned five, high-quality street sculptures in the town, costing about €350,00.

The works are part of a €500,000 history, heritage and tourism programme funded by property development contributions.

The pieces represent Midleton’s history and heritage and include a sculpture of Nellie Cashman (€73,000), a flock of geese (€60,000) on former public land, four sheep (€100,000) representing a market, a Fenian soldier (€25,000) and the newly-installed nine giant feathers (€100,000) monument, honouring a £171 donation to Irish Famine relief from a Choctaw Indian tribe, themselves persecuted and starving.

East Cork municipal district officer Joe McCarthy, a former town clerk, defended the costs of the project.

He said the outlay did not detract from greater sums expended on projects such as street lighting, flood prevention, road restoration and new street landscape.

He said Midleton’s heritage deserved “proper and lasting recognition”. The monies, raised locally, would have been subsumed into Cork County Council’s budget.

Meanwhile, Dr Lydon will attend the Nellie Cashman memorial on Riverside Way at noon on Saturday.

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