The Master of Ceremonies was Counselor Joe MacCarthy of Midleton and the Ex Mayor, Mr. Ted Murphy opened the proceedings. The Midleton brass band was on hand to give a joyful aspect to the occasion and Mrs. Helen Tannsey, a direct descendent of Nellie Cashman, was in the dignitaries attending the unveiling. Ted Murphy talked about the importance of art and monuments to a community and lauded the decision of Midleton to create the number of monuments now erected in the city.
The new Nellie Cashman monument has pride of place in the city and it reflects the great regard that the community has for their treasured daughter. Nellie is known as the “Angel of the Cassiar” as she lead a dangerous and demanding rescue of a large number of Miners, who were trapped in massive Winter snow falls in Northern British Columbia, Canada in 1875. Her courage and compassion is legendary, and wherever she went in the United States or Canada, she left a legacy of caring for those who needed help, and donating funds to noble agencies such as hospitals and charitable foundations. Nellie is the subject of some five books in the USA and she is featured in many others. She has been honored by her inclusion on the 16 American stamps called “Legends of the West”, and in 2006, she was elected to the Alaska Miners Hall of Fame, one of the very few ladies to be given this honor. I had the great pleasure to talk for some time about Nellie Cashman, and I claimed that she was one of the greatest ambassadors that Ireland has ever sent to North America. She was born during the famine in 1845 and emigrated to Boston as a child. Despite her early life of hardship, she became a paragon of virtue, bravery and an admirable capacity to care for those in need. She was a business woman and a miner. Wherever Nellie went, and there are few places that she didn’t try her hand, Nellie left behind a trail of kindness and compassion. In my own City of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Nellie organized major assistance for the Sisters of St. Anne, when they were building St. Josephs Hospital in 1876. Nellie also helped the Sister’s when they built their Hospital in Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Towards the end of her life, Nellie was mining at Nolans Creek, not far from “Purgatory”, North of the Artic Circle in Alaska. When she developed pneumonia at the age of 79, she was brought 8oo miles down river to Fairbanks and then by steamer to Victoria, BC. where she was admitted to St. Josephs Hospital, the very Hospital she had helped to build twenty years earlier. When she died on January the 4th 1925, all the major newspapers of North America gave glowing tributes to the lady known as “The Miners Angel”. She is buried in a lovely grave beside the Sisters of St. Anne in Ross Bay Cemetery, and the Old Cemetery Society looks after her place of burial. At the unveiling of her Monument I made two bold predictions. I predicted that an image of her beautiful Monument in Midleton will be selected as an International Stamp for Ireland and will be sent all over the world. My second prediction was that at some point in the future, the President of the United States of America, will stand at Riverside in Midleton, and He or She, would give a much more eloquent account of the life of Nellie Cashman and the great regard that she was held by the American public. May she rest in peace.
Dr. Patrick Lydon. Victoria BC.