Thursday, December 07, 2006

Great Irish Women part 1 – Nellie Cashman

TO COUNTER and compliment United Irelanders top Irish people which featured few Irish women (for shame) I thought I would do an ongoing series of great Irish women. Hopefully I can feature some women you have never heard of but should have and I am open to suggestions of women you think I should include in the series.

First up is the Angel of Tombstone Nellie Cashman. Nellie was born in Midleton, County Cork in the 1840s before emigrating to the United States in the 1860s. It is believed she worked as a bellhop in a prominent Boston Hotel before being urged by General Ulysses S.Grant to go West.


She set out to San Francisco in 1869 where she became a cook in various mining camps. Money she saved from these jobs enabled her to open the Miner’s Boarding House in Nevada in 1872. She joined some miners heading to the Cassiar gold strike in northern British Columbia and gained her reputation as the Angel of Tombstone by organising and taking part in a rescue of 100 miners by completing a 77-day journey through horrendous weather carrying 1,500 pounds of supplies and medicines.

There are many more amazing things about Nellie, her generosity of spirit for one but for me it was her journey to the Klondike gold rush in 1898 which is absolutely awe-inspiring. Bear in mind 100,000 people made the trek to the Klondike, half of which never made it. During that time she became famous as one of the great figures of the gold rush and was renowned by miners and mine owners.



Even into old age Nellie was still prospecting at the Artic circle and mushing her huskies well into her seventies. “Last week I came over the mountains on a fast dog train and the sled only turned over once. I had a little roll in the snow, but I am travelling light and feeling fine after the long trip. I’m still a long way from the cushion rocker stage. Those prospectors up north need me, and that is the country I expect to live out the rest of my days”.

When asked by a reporter why she never married she said: “Why child, I haven't had time for marriage. Men are a nuisance anyhow, now aren't they? They're just boys grown up."

Sources here, here and here.

EDIT: December 8 to include Wikipedia page.

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United Irelander said...

Well I've still 50 more people to go through but you're correct in that there are very few women.

I don't think we have had many great women in this country though. (Besides my mother of course). ;)

Red Mum said...

Either you are trying to wind me up, or you'll learn a lot from this series as it progresses.

Boliath said...

Hopefully both!

Thanks for doing this, I noticed the male heavy list so didn't bother to participate.

Sinéad said...

"I don't think we have had many great women in this country though."

Jesus Christ, are we back in 1806?

Red Mum, what a great idea, I actually have a book called 'Ten Great Irish Women', I'll dig it out and send you on the list of who's included on it.

Red Mum said...

That would be great Sinead, I think (at the very least) that young pup United Irelander needs a bit of education.

United Irelander said...


"Jesus Christ, are we back in 1806?"

Um are you seriously trying to suggest that men do not dominate the greatest figures in our country's history?

It's not sexist to acknowledge that, it's just being realistic.

I'll keep an eye on the list though.

Paige A Harrison said...

World wars, famine, horrific cruelty, alcoholism, wife-beatings, theft, rape and murder .... mmm, wonder why the guys think that that anything they did was "great"?