Vince and Marie Farren recently had the privilege of celebrating the 100th birthday of one of the elder stateswomen of the Inishowen diaspora, Catherine ‘Cassie’ Devlin née Farren shortly before she died in New Zealand this summer.
‘Cassie’, who passed away on June 11, in Wellington, was the daughter of Hugh Joseph and Mary Theresa Farren née Gillespie, North Inishowen hoteliers who emigrated to the antipodes at the start of the last century.
Vince and Marie made the epic pilgrimage down under for ‘Cassie’s’ landmark birthday bash on April 12 during Holy Week.
Vince, whose grandfather and Hugh Joseph were brothers, said it was lovely to have a chance to say goodbye, although he and Marie had no inkling that ‘Cassie’ would pass on just two months after her birthday celebration.
‘Cassie’ celebrated her 100th in the presence of both Vince and Marie and her sons Patrick John and Robert Paul, both priests in the Society of Jesus.
“Both her sons are priests, one in the Philippines, and one runs the soup kitchens in Wellington, they are lovely people,” said Vince.
‘Cassie’s’ father Hugh, born in July 4, 1865, was a well-known hotelier in Moville, whose hostelry was located where the current Credit Union stands, before he emigrated to Rotorua after marrying Mary Theresa in Inishowen in 1907.
Long before he headed for the opposite side of the planet he achieved fame by saving four lives from a shipwreck in Lough Foyle.
He was presented with a medal in the Royal Humane Society in London in 1884.
The medal and scroll from this endeavour were handed over to the maritime museum in Greencastle.
His wife-to-be Theresa Mary was born in Shrove in 1880, in what’s now currently ‘Michael John’s Pub’.
They had two children in New Zealand, ‘Cassie’, and her brother Patrick Joseph, who sadly died at El Alamein in North Egypt during the Second World War.
Theresa Mary died on November 8, 1927. Hugh remarried but died in 1958.
‘Cassie’, named after her Aunt Cassie, the daughter of William Farren and Anne ‘Nancy’ née Doherty, married Robert Joseph Devlin, who also tragically died in 1953 from complications arising from an illness contracted during WW2. Widowed for 64 years ‘Cassie’ survived all her contemporaries and happily lived to her centenary year and celebrated her 100th year in the bosom of her family in the Wellington Rest home where she spent her last years.