Northern Ireland news

Family of west Belfast great-grandfather devastated by death

John Cassidy (85), originally from Leeson Street in the Falls Road area of west Belfast, died at the Mater Hospital on Sunday
Marie Louise McConville

THE family of a great-grandfather who died following a battle with cancer, having also tested positive for Covid-19, say they are devastated.

John Cassidy (85), originally from Leeson Street off west Belfast’s Falls Road, died on Sunday at the city’s Mater Hospital.

The father-of-two was well known in the community, having been president of the Clonard division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians for almost two decades. He also sat on its all-Ireland governing body, the Board of Erin.

Mr Cassidy was a former fitter at Shorts and a union representative.

Having last year lost his wife Joan, to whom he had been married for 62 years, Mr Cassidy was diagnosed with prostate cancer which then progressed.

Since January he had been in and out of hospital and had respite care at Clifton Nursing Home in north Belfast. He had not seen his family since March when lockdown was imposed.

Last week, after feeling unwell, he was taken to the Mater where he tested positive for coronavirus. On Friday Deirdre McIntyre was allowed into the hospital to see her father. He told her: “It’s a dream come true.”

She said he loved life.

“He was into his mobile phone and his sport. He had a very enquiring mind and always wanted to know how things work,” she said.

“He was quite outspoken. He had his opinions and he stuck to them. He was well liked and well thought of.

“He had a wide circle of friends.”

Deirdre said being unable to give her father a full send-off was hard.

“He was very social,” she said.

“He would have wanted the Irish wake. Not being able to see him, it was just devastating, like you had abandoned him.”

A service for Mr Cassidy will be broadcast online from St Paul’s Church today.

Members of AOH Division 58 will form a guard of honour as his remains leave a funeral home before being taken to Milltown Cemetery.

Deirdre said that when she last saw her father his “face lit up”.

“He didn’t give up. He was a fighter,” she said.

“He will be really missed.”

Tommy Hughes, president of AOH Division 58, said Mr Cassidy would remembered as someone whose “heart was in the club”.

“He was very respected,” he said.

“He was a gentleman. He was a good president and he did his best for the club. You could have approached him at any time.”

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