By Don Cassidy
When my parents took us to Leghowney and Aughlim in 1952 for six weeks, one of their purposes was for Jimmy and I to bond with our roots. And they succeeded in planting within us the desire to return to Donegal. As we were growing up, they reminded us of people that we met and places that we visited so that we wouldn’t forget them.
However, there was just too much for us to absorb. So as adults, we are enjoying the process of re-discovering some great things that are commonplace to our Irish cousins. The narrow road that goes through Clogher, Leghowney, Aughlim and Copany is only a few miles long. Walking along this road, this is what I find:
Going through Clogher, the farms of Big James and Danny Cassidy, whose great-grandfather was Francis Cassidy, who was also my great-grandfather on my father’s side. The next farm belongs to John Cassidy, whose great-grandfather was John Cassidy, the brother of Francis Cassidy, my great-grandfather on my mother’s side. My great-grandfather was born on this farm.
A short distance up the road is Devlin’s farm — my father’s cousins. Next is the farm that was in my father’s family for over 100 years, where he was born and grew up. My grandmother, Bridget Murphy, was born there, too. The farm was in her family. Her grandfather was a man named Cassidy. He may have owned the farm in the 1800s.
Directly across, on the other side of the road, is the farm that used to belong to wee Peggy Cassidy, a cousin of my grandmother — a descendant of Mary McGuire Cassidy. A little further up are newer houses that belong to other Cassidys (Horners) that are great-grandsons of Francis Cassidy (my father’s side). Some of the newer houses belong to their married children.
Next to them is the farm that was owned by the Murphys, cousins on my grandmother’s side. The famous Leghowney Hall, where the Leghowney Drama Society puts on its annual play, is next.
About a mile further, the road goes up a hill and you get to Copany, where the former Four Masters School, built in the 1800s, is now a residence. The conversion took place in the 1980s when my mother and her brother, Father Donal Cassidy, owned the place.
Aughlim, where the house built by my great-grandfather still stands. A little further away is the farm where my mother was born. My grandfather, Francis Cassidy, bought this place in 1904 with money he earned in Boston.
The McMullens’ place is in Meenadreen, very close by. They are long-term family friends and relatives — my father’s sister, Lizzie Cassidy, having married Patrick McMullen. The Boyles live nearby. They are close cousins, too, on my mother’s side.
Much of our summer in Leghowney in 1952 was spent gathering the hay. Toward the end, the sheep were dipped, marked at Meenahan Bunt and sheared.
After we got home to New York, we got a letter that said how much money they received for the wool. They had a milk can going to the creamery each day, and they had the proceeds of the wool. This was the only cash they got. But it was enough — my mother said they had money in the bank.