The Cassidy Clan is headed by the Chief of the Clan, who is referred to or addressed by the title “An O’ Caisideach,” and the officers of the Executive Committee. The An O’Caisideach is an honoree position and ex-officio member of the Executive Committee.
The first An O’ Caisideach was Sean Ó Casaide of the Republic of Ireland, who was designated honorary Chief of the Clan for life. Sean served in this position from 1991 to 2003. With Sean’s passing, his wife Noirin Casaide was designated Chief of the Clan and served as Chief until 2005.
Noirin and Sean Ó Caiside at the 1998 Cassidy Clan Rally.
Dr. Sheila Cassidy from Australia was inaugurated as An Caisideach inaugurated on Devenish Island at the 2005 Cassidy Clan Rally.
Three years later Philip Patrick Cassidy (known as Pat) from County Fermanagh was installed as An Caisideach, and served as our Chieftain through the 2014 rally.
Sadly, Pat died in August 2014 and as a mark of respect for his dedication and commitment to the Cassidy Clan organization since 1991, the office of An Caisideach was left vacant.
At our 2017 Gathering, Nuala Cassidy from County Armagh was elected as the new Chieftain. Nuala served as Chieftain until 2023. With her passing, Stephen Cassidy, who was the Tánaiste or Deputy Chieftain, became the Clan Chieftain. Stephen resides in California.
Nuala Cassidy with her brother Noel at the 2017 Clan Rally where she was installed as Chieftain.
We thank Kerry Cassidy of Switzerland and Australia for his report and contribution to our website:
The 2017 Cassidy Clan rally was a great success. It was attended by over 60 clan members from many parts of the globe and all seemed to enjoy the varied and interesting program.
The Rally commenced on Friday the 30th June with registration of participants from 12.00 to 2.00 pm, then continued with getting to know the other members. This was followed at 4.00 pm by the Clan General Meeting with the election of An Caisideach (or president) and office bearers. The meeting was rather short as there was only one nomination for An Caisideach.
Nuala Cassidy was elected in a unanimous vote and her brother Noel was elected as chairman, a position in which Nuala had been active for some time. Both Nuala and Noel are very devoted to the clan and I feel they will both be excellent in the positions. Oliver Cassidy was invited to accept the office of An Tánaiste (deputy chieftain) for the next three years.
The venue for the Clan Rally was the Killyhevlin Hotel at Enniskillen and the facilities were perfect for the event.
After dinner on Friday we had a Power Point Presentation, “Meet the Cousins”, then the rest of the evening was spent meeting new friends and enjoying the beautiful night.
Saturday started with an interesting talk by Veronica Williams from Australia, telling us of the research she has done tracing her Cassidy ancestors back to Ireland and also explaining her work with DNA to trace ancestral links.
Anyone interested in this subject, please contact Veronica as she has now volunteered to oversee the Clan’s DNA project.
Veronica’s talk was followed by an interesting presentation by Frank Roofe, who is a local historian and genealogist. Frank is also an honorary life member of the Cassidy Clan and has helped many people with their research. He has been an integral part of the Clan gatherings for the last 15 years. Frank gave us several good tips on research and afterwards was our guide on a bus tour visiting interesting historical sites in the area.
We started off with the Enniskillen Castle museum, previously the Maguire Castle until the English confiscated it and their lands. The museum contains some very interesting displays showing how the people of the area have lived over the last two thousand years.
We later continued on via Bally Cassidy to the Ardess Famine Graveyard and finally to the Ancient Cassidy Rath. It was a very special feeling to be at the Rath, knowing that over a thousand years ago our ancestors lived there.
Kerry and Elisabeth Cassidy with Noel Cassidy at site of Ancient Cassidy Rath during 2017 Cassidy Clan Rally.
After dinner on Saturday evening we were invited to an old fashioned Céili House, with three members of the Blackwater Céili Band. Eamonn Keeman and Jeff the Piper tod many tales of old and we were also entertained by singer Tina Cassidy and some talented clan members including Noel Cassidy.
The Sunday program started with a talk by Noel Cassidy about some of the renowned early Cassidy poets, including Gill Mo Duta Ua Caiside and Tómas Ban Úa Caiside.
This was followed by a fascinating P P Presentation by Alf Monaghan where he looked at the history of early Irish Christianity from a very different perspective. Titled “Monastic Ireland – A Gift of the Nile” it showed evidence that the original Christians in Ireland were Coptic Christians escaping the persecution of the Romans. Alf showed many examples of evidence substantiating the links back to Egypt. This was a long time before Saint Patrick came to Romanize the Christians in Ireland.
Alf’s talk was followed by another bus trip, this time to the ferry landing near Devenish Island.
We then took the ferry across to the Island for the Inauguration Ceremony of our new An Caisideach.
This was also a special experience and included many old customs of previous generations. We had lots of time to explore the Island, the ruins of the old monastery and the interesting museum.
We then returned to the hotel for the Gala Dinner and evening entertainment with the Byrne Brothers and the dancing and fellowship continued into the wee hours of the morning.
Many of us met again on Monday morning to say our farewells and there were quite a few who promised to meet again at the next rally in three years. We hope to see lots of members there in 2020.
Nuala Cassidy with her brother Noel at the 2017 Clan Rally where she was installed as Chieftain.
Our next Cassidy Clan rally will take place in the Summer of 2017 near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, from Friday, June 30th to Sunday, July 2nd. The host hotel for the rally will be the Killyhevlin Hotel. We will publish the rally program and cost of the program in early 2017.
Attendees must make their own lodging reservations. You can book directly with the Killyhevlin Hotel or visit Fermanagh Lakelands website which has a comprehensive listing of hotels, B&Bs, and other accommodations.
February 2017 Update
The Cassidy Clan Rally is a weekend to promote friendship and camaraderie among Cassidys worldwide. The weekend will include Devenish Summer School, a trip to Devenish Island, the Ancient Cassidy Rath and other historic and scenic places in County Fermanagh, genealogy and family history discusscions, concluding with a gala dinner with traditional music, song and dance.
Programme of Events
Friday, 30th 2017
12 noon – Start of Registration
4 pm – Official Opening followed by Clan General Meeting including election of An Caisideach. As the office of An Caisideach (Chieftain of the Cassidy Clan) is vacant all registered members of the Clan may nominate a person for this position.
Saturday, July 1st
Morning – Genealogy
Family and Local History
Afternoon (depending weather)
Bus tour of scenic and places of historic interest including Cassidy Ancient Rath
Sunday, July 2nd
Morning – Devenish Summer School
Afternoon – Inauguration of An Caisideach on the Ancient burial ground of our Cassidy Ancestors on Devenish Island
Clan Gala Dinner
An evening of good company, food, drink and entertainment
Please contact Nuala Cassidy by email. Her address is nuala [at] caiside.org and inform her of your intention to attend and the number of persons in your party.
Cassidy — O’Cassidy — O’Caiside is an ancient Irish name.
But why are there so many variations of the Cassidy family name, especially in America?
In America, in addition to Cassidy, one will find the surnames:
Many of these variations are common in the American South, and increasing in the Midwest. In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, Cassidys and Cassitys landed in Virginia and moved west into Indian territory, playing leading roles in the formation of the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.
Post famine, another wave of Cassidys came to America, with many settling in the industrial centers of the North, along with smaller towns in the Northeast.
And even in Ireland one will find variations on the Cassidy surname as this gravestone for Patrick Cafsidy on Devenish Island shows.
How and why did so many variations of Cassidy of develop in America?
The following discussion occurred on the Roots Web Cassidy exchange in July 1999:
Why so many Cassidy variations? (1) Immigration officials who weren’t wonderful spellers; and (2) Spelling the name as they heard the people pronounce it. Caiside in Irish is CAW-SHI-DUH.
Nancy Cassada Nelson:
My name is Nancy Cassada Nelson, and thereby hangs a tale. A few years ago when I was getting divorced & planning to resume my maiden name, my daughter, knowing how caught up I was in the family history, suggested that instead of just becoming “Nancy Ruth Nelson” again, I should take this opportunity to rename myself. Her reasoning was that “two last names are classier than two first names.”
Casada was my grandmother’s maiden name, and the photos, letters and Bible pages that my mother had treasured formed the beginning of my family search. The first “new” relatives that I located, back in those pre-Internet days, were from the Casada branch. My daughter suggested that I use the Michiganers’ “Cassada” with 2 SS’s, thinking it would help folks to pronounce it better. That doesn’t seem to work, but it does attract interest, and at the office of the doctor, dentist, any one at all with multiple Nancy Nelsons, I do stand out. But I sometimes regret that I didn’t retain our “classic” spelling of Casada.
I know that my great grandfather signed his name that way and it appears that his father and grandfather did so as well. My East Tennessee grandmother spelled her name Casada and pronounced it “Cassidy.” Family who went to Iowa in 1840’s apparently retained pronunciation; spelling there is now Casaday or variations thereof. Folks who went to Michigan in early 1900’s spell it Cassada and say “Cass Uh Duh”.
Only one generation removed from the East Tennessee folks, they are real surprised to learn the “correct” pronunciation. You read all kinds of dramatic and involved stories about “why Uncle Jim changed the spelling” — I think that even those who could read and write in the 19th century didn’t think the spelling was that important. And, of course, just because it is spelled a certain way by a census taker in 1870, doesn’t mean anyone else ever spelled it that way.
Here’s something I’ve read & it seems to hold up: when you find deeds, wills, etc in the courthouse, what you are finding is a copy of the original made by a clerk. The clerk also copies the signatures at the bottom. That’s why you find that little drawing that says “seal”, the original had the seal. The name within the document may be spelled however this clerk, or the one who wrote the original deed, thinks it should be spelled. The signature or signatures should have been copied exactly as they appeared on the original and are thus the way your ancestor spelled his name. That day, at least.
Different Cassidy spellings are because the original name is Gaelic and English “translations” of that vary. Pronunciation also varies slightly. Think of how differently the same word can be pronounced in parts of the U.S. And the further back you go, the more unreliable spelling is.
Ever see how many ways Will Shakespeare signed his own name? People just weren’t as hung up on a “correct” way. Then you get people who can’t read and write (and many of the early immigrants could not), telling their name to some county clerk who barely could, and he wrote what it sounded like to him.
Along the way at some point, a spelling “stuck” to a particular branch of the family and they all started (mostly) using the same spelling. But often within the family you will find a record in another spelling, or Uncle Harry who decided to spell it with an “e” or an “a” or a “t” or whatever. The point is, don’t discount a record solely because the name is spelled differently than you spell it today.
This is also a great analysis. An example of an Irish name this happens to is Bradley, which was my grandmother’s name. When you’re in Ireland, they pronounce it “Brolly” and no matter how many times you say “Bradley” they come back at you with “Brolly.” So then you see the name spelled “Brolly” and it’s the same name.
Pete Cassada in June 2000:
I was born in Danville, Virginia in 1968, have lived in Virginia all my life. I am currently living in Roanoke Virginia. My father died when I was 6 months old, and my grandfather shortly thereafter. So, any information of my history has always been hard to come by. My family had always been tobacco farmers until a few years back. No records were ever kept due to most deliveries being done by midwives rather than at a hospital.
All my life I have been curious of my family history. I am the only remaining Cassada in my family. For years I have dealt with the public mispronouncing my name.
I’m told the correct way is Cas-uh-duh. Even though I am fair skinned with red hair, I still never new much because the spelling of my name is very difficult to find in genealogy searches. I was shocked to find the web site about the Cassidy history and my last name included as possible descendants. Thank you so much for your efforts. At least now I can say without a doubt that I am from an Irish background.
Patricia Gentry Cassity in May 2002:
In your lead paragraph about the variations of the name Cassidy, you mention Cassity as being early settlers in Tennessee and Kentucky. The “ty’s” also came to Alabama before Alabama became a state. There are many records of James, Charles, Hugh, John Cassity in the area that became Clarke County, Alabama. In addition, I came across a Peter Cassity in the area.
These men came into the Indian Territory with passes on more than one occasion, which meant that they traveled back into Georgia or some other State. I have not found records of their leaving the territory. Permission to leave was probably not required, but some of them did have more than one pass to come into the territory. It has interested me as to why they went down to the area that later became Clarke County, Alabama.
That area is quite a distance into the state. Maybe they were deep into Georgia and just came across into the area and not down as I had supposed. They have stayed in the Clarke County, Alabama area until this day. Of course, some moved to Mississippi and beyond and into Mobile, Alabama, as did my father-in-law. This is my husband’s family and I would really like to fill in some blanks. They have retained the spelling for the most part, although I see Casity and Casety in some of the legal documents.
James Cassada in February 2003:
My family comes from Halifax and surrounding counties, in Virginia, USA. We spell the name Cassada and pronounce it CASS-uh-duh. Our family tradition says that our earliest ancestor in America came from Ireland, but I have often wondered how that could be, as there doesn’t seem to be a name by that spelling in Ireland. Information I recently found on the Cassidy Clan website helps me to understand some records that others in my family gathered from county courthouses decades ago.
The tithe (tax) records of Lunenburg County show that in 1748 one J. Stuart, owner of a settlement (farm) in what is now Charlotte County, paid tithes for a Wm. Casedy, a male over the age of 16 living on the Stuart farm. In 1749 in the same area James Stuart paid tithes for Wm. Cassady. In 1750, again in the same area, William Cassaday is listed as a principal tithe payer, with no males over 16 living on his farm.
I would assume that William was an illiterate tenant on the Stuart farm, and may have bought that farm or a part of it by 1750. Since he could not spell his name, the tithe-taker spelled it the way he thought he heard William or J. Stuart pronounce it, with the result that the same tithe-taker spelled the same man’s name three different ways in successive years. Marriage records from the same county list a Casady in 1787, a Casaday in 1806, and a Cassida in 1825, making at least seven spellings of the name of what was probably the same family!
I suspect that when the first member of the family learned to read and write, he took the spelling from whatever official record happened to be handy, and it has been “set in concrete” ever since.I recall my uncle telling me that when he was a child (in the 1930’s or early 40’s), he pronounced the name of Cassada as “Cassidy” until a relative pointed out to him that it was not spelled that way, and should be pronounced “CASS-uh-duh”.
I’m sure my uncle did not dream up that pronunciation of his name, he must have learned it from his parents and other family members. Unlike our early Irish ancestors, modern Americans generally believe that every word (especially a name) has one “correct” spelling and pronunciation that never changes. It is easy to understand how a family member just a couple of generations back could have assumed that the way we spell our name today must be the way it has always been spelled, and that the pronunciation must match the spelling.
With the insights gained by reviewing the Cassidy Clan website, all this begins to make sense, and I now understand that we are a branch of the Irish Cassidy clan. I wish that earlier generations of my family could have had access to the Cassidy Clan website years ago when they were researching our family history. It is a terrific resource for information that goes beyond our small section of Virginia, and has answered a lot of questions about who we are and where we came from. Thank you, to everyone who has contributed to this wonderful resource.
Oliver Cassidy in February 2016
Here is my opinion: Very many members of our distinguished Clann left Ireland in the 1800’s. Some left voluntarily and others who were forced to do so by the action of ruthless landlords. Most of them had been living in conditions of abject poverty. They would have had no schooling and would therefore been unable to read or write.
What is the point in been able to read if you have nothing to read or write, no books, no papers? These people worked morning, noon and night on really small mountainous farms in conditions that were nothing better than slavery.
Let’s imagine then that someone, called Hugh Cassidy, from a poor family in west Fermanagh gets a passage to America and arrive at Ellis Island in 1880. The conversation might go something like this:
Immigration Officer: Name sir?
Immigrant: Hugh Cassidy,( he may have pronounced his name as Cassidy, Casdey, Cassiday,Cassity, Keshdey, Keshidey, )
Immigration Officer: How do you spell that sir?
Immigrant: Sorry, I can’t read or write or spell.
At that stage it was left entirely to the imagination of the immigration officer as to how Cassidy might be spelt.
I imagine that Hugh Cassidy would have been handed a document at the end of the process with his name written on it. For the first time ever Hugh Cassidy would have his name in print. He would then probably have adopted that spelling and passed it on to his descendents.
The important thing is that all of these spellings are derived from the original Irish name, O’Caiside. Hope that this interpretation is useful to Cassidys wherever in the world you may be and what ever spelling your ancestors adopted for you.
What is your view? Please share your comments with us?
The video at this link will bring a smile to all Cassidys worldwide. It is a concert by Na Casaidigh (or The Cassidys) recorded on October 29, 2015 for TG4, the Irish language broadcaster. Na Casaidigh is a band formed by the sons of Sean and Noirin Ó Caiside. Sean was designated honorary Chief of the Cassidy Clan for life. Sean served in this position from 1991 to 2003.
The concert, entirely in Irish, features the brothers joined by the children. It is an absolutely delightful and distinctive treatment of traditional Irish music combined with Na Casaidigh’s own compositions.
The O’Casaide brothers have been playing and singing together since their childhood in Gweedore, County Donegal. Since then their harmonies, energy and command of a dazzling number of instruments has placed them in the front rank of traditional Irish.
Na Casaidigh has released five acclaimed albums, including Óró Na Casaidigh, which went platinum and topped the Irish charts for three weeks. Na Casaidighs appearances in front of U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan in Dublin Castle and Bill Clinton on College Green brought them to the attention of television audiences worldwide.
Noirin Ó Caiside and sons from Na Casaidigh and other family members performing at the 2005 Cassidy Clan Rally.
The Cassidy Clan is headed by the Chief of the Clan, who is given the title “An O’ Caisideach.” Sean Ó Casaide was our first An O’ Caisideach, and designated with honorary Chief of the Clan for life. Sean served in this position from 1991 until his death in 2003.
In an obituary reprinted below, The Irish Times wrote that Sean had “a passion for music, a love of the Irish language and a lifelong commitment to the education and well-being of children.” Born in 1907, Sean’s life spanned the 20th Century of Ireland.
In an interview conducted by Stephen Cassidy in 1999, Sean discusses his family, significant Irish and world events, his work in education, and love of Irish music and culture as well as notable Cassidys in Ireland.
The outbreak of World War I, the Easter Rising in Dublin, terror waged by the Black and Tans across Ireland are among the topics discussed by Sean Ó Caiside in the second part of the interview.
This clip concludes Sean’s interview.
Teacher committed to well-being of children
The Irish Times, September 13, 2003
Sean O Casaide, who has died aged 96, had a passion for music, a love of the Irish language and a lifelong commitment to the education and well-being of children.
He was born on March 16th, 1907, in Mullinroe, Co Longford, the fourth of the 13children of John Cassidy and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Coen), primary teachers in the nearby Cloneen school. Growing up in turbulent times, he witnessed the torching of Granard by the Black and Tans.
He won the King’s Scholarship to St Patrick’s Training College, Drumcondra, where the writer John D. Sheridan was a close friend and classmate. In his first teaching post in St John’s Lane in the Liberties, his class of 90 children came to school barefoot and hungry.
From this experience stemmed his conviction that education is the key to the alleviation of poverty. This and a clear understanding of the enormous challenges that face the educator in deprived areas were central to his life’s work in education. He had little interest in material comforts and sent his salary home to provide an education for his younger siblings, after the untimelydeath of his father.
Tugadh cuireadh do i 1931 a bheith mar mhuinteoir i Scoil Naomh Phadraig, bunscoil a bhi ceangailte le Colaiste Phadraig i nDroim Conrach: sa bhealach sinbhi pairt aige in oiliuint mhuinteoiri. Mar mhuinteoir og, rinne se ceimeanna H.Dip agus M.A. san oiche i gColaiste na hOllscoile, Baile Atha Cliath. Lena dheirfiur Daisy scriobh se an chead sraith leabhair I nGaeilge do phaisti bun scoile. Ceapadh ina Chigire Ceoil e i 1937, agus bhi se lonnaithe i nGaillimh agus i gCorcaigh. Mar Chigire Bunscoile, d’oibir se in Iarthair na hEireann (1941-’55).
Chaith se 10 mbliana ansin mar Chigire Ceantair agus ma Roinnchigire i dTir Chonaill, cupla bliain ar an Chlochan Liath, agus seacht mbliana i nGaoth Dobhair. Chuaigh se go Bhaile Atha Cliath i 1965 agus ceapadh mar Phriomhchigire Cunta e i 1969.Â
Nuair a d’eirigh se as an chigireacht i 1972, chaith se 10 mbliana mar Eagarthoir Ceoil sa Ghum. Ba mhinic a deireadh Sean gurbh e ceann de na laethanta a ba shona dena shaol, an la gur thosaigh se fein agus a athair le cheile a fhoghlaim Gaeilge, agus e mar dheagoir sa bhaile tar eis bunu an tSaorstait. Chuaigh Dubhglas de hIde i bhfeidhm go mor air, agus e ina mhac leinn aige in Ollscoil na hEireann.
He had a lifelong involvement with choirs, bands and the teaching of Irish and classical music. Under his guidance the Scoil Naomh Phadraig tin-whistle band frequently performed on 2RN Radio. In 1935 he founded the choir of Craobh an Cheitinnigh, Conradh na Gaeilge, in which three of his brothers sang.
He supported the work of Irish composers, convincing the minister of education in 1936 to assist the impoverished Carl Hardebeck with a yearly stipend of 150.
He introduced many children to music, most famously his niece, Geraldine O’Grady. He was enormously proud and supportive of his musical relatives, including the O’Grady family, Frank Patterson and Patrick Cassidy, all of whom consulted him on Irish music. In his later years he enjoyed his role as honorary taoiseach of the reconstituted Cassidy Clan.
Bhailiodh Sean seanamhrain sa Ghaeltacht, o dhaoine mar Roise na nAmhran i nArainn Mhor. Bhi se mar mholtoir sean-nois san Oireachtas ar feadh blianta fada, mar a raibh teagmhail aige le ceoltoiri mora na linne, cosuil le Sean O Riada agus Seosamh O hEanai. Ar theacht go Baile Atha Cliath do sna seascaidi, ba mhor an chuis misnigh do an “mion ghaeltacht” i Ranallach, mar a raibh moran teaglaigh le Gaeilge.
Nuair a bunaiodh an dara Gaelscoil i Ranallach i 1995, ba e Sean abhaist Lios na nOg uirthi.
His songs for children such as Teidi Beag Alainn, are a fitting testimony to hisgreat fondness for the young. His talents for composition and harmonisation wereparticularly valued by his own family, the group Na Casaidigh. Imbued by a deep faith, he composed an Irish Mass for the church choir which he conducted in Ranelagh for 36 years.
Cuis mhor broin a bhas da bhean cheile, a chompanach ionuin, Noirin, da thriur inion Fionnula, Ailbhe agus Caitriona, da sheachtar mac Ruairi, Ciaran, Feargus,Fionntan, Aongus, Odhran agus Seathrun. Cailliuint mhor fosta da thriur dearthara mhaireann, Kevin, Martin agus Brendan.
Sean O Casaide: born March 16th, 1907; died September 3rd, 2003