The Cassandra Hand Centre was commissioned in 1859 by Cassandra Hand as a school for infants and girls. Cassandra came to Clones Town in September 1847 along with her husband the Rev Thomas Hand, at the height of the Great Irish Famine. Life in Clones contrasted sharply to Cassandra’s upbringing in Surrey and she was moved by the extreme poverty in and around her adopted town. She decided to promote crochet as a famine relief measure and set up a lace making school in her home at Bishopscourt just outside Clones. The profits from the Clones Lace enabled Cassandra in 1859 to finance the construction of this 19th Century Gothic-style building, which served as a school for the education of infants and young girls until 1911.
The building is owned by the Clogher Diocesan Board of Education and was used as a centre for parish meetings until the 1990’s. It fell into disrepair during the next fifteen years. In 2003 Clones Community Forum and Clones 1500, a cross-community heritage group, put a plan in place to renovate this beautiful 19th Century Gothic-style building and secured funding from the Heritage Council and Peace II. It was officially opened to the public in February 2006. It was renamed the Cassandra Hand Centre and was officially opened by Minister Dick Roche on 13th February.
The Centre is located on the Abbey Lane in Clones Town, across from the Round Tower.
Cassandra Hand (1809 – 1868)
Cassandra was the 9th child of James More Molyneux (c.1760-1823) and Anne (nee Merriot, d.1843). Loseley Park, Surrey. Cassandra was a family name, borne by her great aunt and great great grandmother. Cassandra’s husband attended Trinity College Oxford, so was possibly a friend of her brother James More Molyneux (1805-1874) who was the same age and at the same college. Thomas Hand, born 1806, first son of John Staples Hand of Billericay, Essex; was reactor of Bulphan, Essex, 1830-1847, then of Clones. Cassandra married Thomas Hand at Compton on 17th May 1831 and they had five children, three boys and two girls.
Cassandra died in 1868 and is buried along with her husband in the Church of Ireland graveyard at Clough near Roslea, Co. Fermanagh.