Cavan Connections

Cavan’s people are its greatest asset

Cavan Connections

St Kilian - Patron of Sufferers of Rheumatism. 

Feastday: July 8th

Born in 640 in Mullagh, St Kilian was sent to evangelize Franconia (Baden and Bavaria) upon being consecrated Bishop. There, he and two followers were successful as missionaries and converted Gosbert, the Duke of Wurzburg. Unfortunately the Duke had married Geilana, his brother’s widow who is reputed to have had the three missionaries beheaded when she found that Gosbert was going to leave her after Kilian had told him the marriage was forbidden by the Church.

The martyred Kilian was soon revered and his relics were transferred to the Cathedral in Wurzburg on July 8, 752. It is there that he is greatly honoured by the people. The Cathedral is dedicated in his name. The seminary is called Killianarun and numerous statues of the saint are prominent around the city. 

The diocese and city celebrate “Kilianfest” in the first week of July with a street carnival, pageants and a solemn procession with the relics of the three martyrs.

Chris Noth on tracing his roots to Cavan

In 2016, staff at Cavan County Council were delighted to welcome Hollywood actor Chris Noth and a film crew from the US version of the genealogy series, ‘Who Do You Think You Are’? 

The actor’s roots have been traced to the Knockbride/Bailieboro area. His grandfather, whose name was Maguire, left Cavan for Canada around 1840. 

“I think the bonds must have been incredibly strong between the people and the place. I think the place must have really defined them; their home. It had to be tough to leave your homeland. If you came from here, I think you had an in-bred toughness to you; that you could get through it... For me, it’s been a revelation.”

- Chris Noth 

Chris Murray and Carlotta Hester - Lavey, County Cavan Links

In 2004 Carlotta Hester an American Artist from the Govinda Gallery, Washington had an exhibition at Cavan County Museum in association with the Arts Office. The Govinda Gallery is curated by Chris Murray who has holidayed in Cavan every summer since 1999 and meets the Murray family who hail from Lavey.

Chris Murray and Carlotta Hester married at the St Dympna’s Holy Well, Lavey, Co Cavan in 2005. Carlotta subsequently made a series of live drawings during the years of Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in County Cavan, 2010 to 2012. These drawings celebrate the rich cultural tradition of the county and feature renowned Cavan and national musicians, capture street scenes and the drama of the Comhaltas competitions.

A selection of these drawings featuring significant Cavan and Comhaltas musicians nationally and internationally were exhibited in 2012 in Cavan during the Fleadh and subsequently in 2013 at TradFest in Temple Bar.

Chris and Carlotta are in the process of buying a holiday home in Cavan for their visits and every summer they attend Comhaltas and traditional music sessions in the public houses across the county and at the Museum where Carlotta is constantly sketching the musicians, singers and dancers as they preserve and build the tradition.

The Pram That Helped the Rising - A Tribute to the Irish Community in Butte Montana, 1916-1919

This live storytelling and traditional music event by visual artist Amanda Jane Graham in collaboration with musician Martin Donohoe premiered in the Townhall Cavan in March 2016. The work centred on Amanda Jane’s own personal and deeply moving story of her grandmother Mary Timmins, a story passed down through three generations which the artist has drawn on as part of her art practice.

The story is set against the backdrop of Marcus Daly’s Anaconda Copper Mine. Daly, a native of Crosserlough, Co.Cavan, and the youngest of eleven children, emigrated to America at the age of fifteen and made his fortune in the mines, which then became known as ‘The Richest Hill on Earth’.

The women of the Irish Community in Butte, Montana made a mattress for a doll’s pram and secretly stitched thousands of dollars inside it, which is given to three-year old Mary Timmins to unwittingly smuggle to Ireland. The money raised by the Irish emigrants in the Butte Montana Mine was to be used to help prepare for the 1916 Rising.

Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference

In March 2016, ‘This is Cavan!’ supported the Nuffield Contemporary Scholars Conference which saw those working in agriculture travelling to Cavan from across the globe.

Emily Rigby, an Australian, whose ancestors left here in the 19th Century made contact with the organisers prior to the conference and arranged to meet some of her relatives during her attendance at the conference.

Emily was also interviewed by the local newspaper, Anglo Celt, about her visit to Cavan and the story of her family’s links to Cavan.

1947 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final

The 1947 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final between Cavan and Kerry was the sixtieth All-Ireland Final.

For the first and only time, the final was played outside Ireland, at the Polo Grounds in New York City, to cater for the large Irish-American community there. The New York final was also intended to observe the centenary of the Great Famine that triggered mass Irish emigration to the U.S. and other countries.

Around 30,000 people were in the Grounds for the final. Cavan travelled by air and Kerry by sea; the Ulster team credited their victory partially to their shorter time spent travelling. The Cavan team flew via the Azores, taking 30 hours. Kerry’s trip by Ocean Liner took far longer.

After a slow start, Cavan fought back to lead 2-5 to 2-4 at the break and went on to win by four points. Peter Donohue scored eight points from frees and was called “the Babe Ruth of Gaelic football” in the New York press.

Michael O’Hehir broadcast radio commentary back across the Atlantic Ocean. The Cavan team returned to Ireland aboard the RMS Queen Mary. Cavan captain Mick Higgins recalled, “It was only after we arrived in Southampton that we realised the joy of it all.

Large numbers of Cavan people turned up to see us in London and Birmingham. We were treated like kings in Cavan.” is a website focusing on covering all Cavan sports through the media of video and audio. The service produces weekly podcasts featuring lively discussion and analysis on as many sports as possible. The team also produces video content and streams live audio of sporting events including matches, draws and panel discussion shows.

This initiative was set up because of the large number of Cavan people overseas who are keen to hear how their local GAA team was doing, especially in championship. Hundreds of the Cavan Diaspora regularly tune in to hear live commentary on all championship matches in Kingspan Breffni Park and other venues. On a trip to New York in 2015 with the Cavan senior football team, Damien Donohoe saw first hand how keen the diaspora were for ‘hyper local information’ - news from home delivered fast.

The idea for ‘We Are Cavan’ was born, a digital platform that would bring local sporting information to the global Cavan community as soon as possible. The company generates some revenue from advertisers including O’Reilly’s bars in New York.

Statistics include:

  • Live broadcasts have been heard on 82,449 devices around the world
  • The weekly podcast has been listened to over 35,900 times
  • There have been 275,577 page-views by 63,039 unique users
  • The top 50 city locations of visits to the website show the spread of the Cavan diaspora across the world.

The Cavan Protective & Benevolent Association

During the decade from 1845 to 1855, over a million Irish men and women went to America. Among these, many thousands came from Cavan. In an alien country, far from home and family, they came together to form an organisation to foster a spirit of fraternity and where they might help each other in time of need.

One hundred and sixty nine years ago, a small group of these exiles formed what is known today as The Cavan Protective & Benevolent Association. The Cavan men boast the oldest county association in the U.S; the first written record concerning the Cavan Association in New York is in an official program for an Annual Ball celebrating its 35th Anniversary in 1883.

Although the Constitution of the Association has been amended occasionally to keep in line with changing times, its primary goals remain unaltered. These goals are to “foster a spirit of friendship among the members, and to help them and their families in time of sickness and death.”

Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard – In August 2017, Cavan County Council and Cavan Comets Baseball Club unveiled a plaque to Andy Leonard who was born in Cavan in 1846 and died in Boston in 1903. Andy was a famous baseball player and played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings. He was nominated for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Colonel Patrick O’Rorke

Col. Patrick O’Rorke was born in Drumbess, Co. Cavan in 1837 and moved to the USA when he was 1 year old. He graduated first in his class in 1861 at West Point and commanded his Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg where he was killed aged 27 years. In 2013 Cavan County Council was contacted regarding this Cavan man who has a bridge named after him in Rochester.

Justice Dollinger and other members of the O’Rorke Memorial Society are seeking to have the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Col O’Rorke and Judge Dollinger believes that O’Rorke would have been one of the leaders of the post war generation had he lived. On 27th March 2014, a ceremony was held in Drumbess where Minister Michael Ring unveiled a plaque to honour Col Patrick O’Rorke.

The US Embassy was represented at the event, Professor Timothy Madigan from Rochester and Governement Ministers also attended. The plaque was provided by Cavan County Council & Cornafean Community Development Association. Following on from this, in 2015, members of Cavan County Council visited New York City for St. Patrick’s Day and made a visit to Rochester where they met with members of the O’Rorke Memorial Society.