Welcome to Cloghaun
(pronounced CLAH HAN). This grand home is one of the
oldest houses on Mackinac Island and I am blessed to be
the fourth generation to manage her. The house is filled
with a wealth of antiques and accessories (many of which
are original to Cloghaun) from the late 1800’s. Family
photographs, dating back to the mid-1800’s, are
displayed throughout the house. It is my privilege to
share Cloghaun and her history with you.
Thomas and Bridget Donnelly were my great-grandparents.
Bridget was born in 1831 in Clew Bay near Westport,
Ireland. Thomas came from Cloghaun, a small town in
Galway County, Ireland. They were married in 1848, in
Liverpool, England, just before they sailed to America.
Sixteen couples were married at the same time using the
same claddagh ring. The trip cost 10 pounds (or about
$15 in U.S. currency) and took 36 days.
Charles O’Malley, was a resident on
Mackinac Island and provided the funds for their
emigration to America. Charles built the original Island
House, (which is one of the major existing hotels on the
Island today) in 1852. He helped many of the Irish
people escape the great potato famine in Ireland to seek
a new life in America.
When Thomas and Bridget arrived in America, they worked
their way to Buffalo, New York and stayed until the
spring, as Bridget was pregnant with their first child.
After Mary (the first of seven daughters) was born, they
made the voyage to the Island, where they stayed a short
time before moving to Sault Ste. Marie. Thomas found
work as a laborer building the first lock in 1850. When
the great waterway was
completed in 1855, Bridget made
the first trip through the locks on the Illinois, the
only steamship on the Great Lakes at the time.
The Donnelly’s moved to Chicago the next year with $500
in gold from Thomas’ work on the locks. Bridget put the
gold in a local bank and that night, as the story goes,
had a dream of seeing the bank’s shades pulled down and
a bench overturned in front. The next morning, she was
at the bank demanding her money. When they tried to give
her paper currency she said, “Gold I brought and gold
I’ll take.” It may have been “the luck of the Irish,” as
the bank closed that very night.
Thomas and Bridget moved back to Mackinac Island and
used the gold to buy the land where Cloghaun now stands.
This was seven years after they had first arrived on the
Island. The lot was purchased in 1859 from
Grecian columned house was destroyed by fire in
1856. The family, prior to the building of Cloghaun,
lived in a house next door to the present home. Starting
in 1880, it took four years to build Cloghaun. The wood
house cost $700 and was hand picked in
Cheboygan, Michigan and shipped to the Island.
The family had now grown as James (Jamie), Bridget, Catherine,
William, Patrick, Anna, Margaret, Helen (Nellie), Adele
(Dellie) and Henry followed Mary. Several babies died at
birth. Jamie died when he was 12 years old from
pneumonia while working on the fishing boats with his
father. Patrick died of tuberculosis at age 55.
fishing industry on the Island was booming. Thomas
sold his catch of fresh fish in the summer months and in
the winter packed
salt fish in barrels (made in the Doud
co-operative) for export. Thomas sold a four or five
pound whitefish for as little as 10 cents, but the
volume made it a profitable business.
Following Thomas’s death in 1882, Bridget finished the
home. Some time thereafter, she began to accommodate the growing tourist population.
The house was known as the Donnelly Cottage.
After Bridget’s death in 1910, two daughters, Adele
Helen (Nellie), took over management of the house. Their sister,
Dr. Anna Kelton, widow of Major Dwight Kelton, a former
officer at Fort Mackinac, joined them in 1925. Anna’s
graduation certificate from osteopathic school is
displayed on the second floor.
As Post Quartermaster, Major Kelton is credited for
converting the upper floor of the North Blockhouse at
Fort Mackinac into a water storage tank. He also ran
pipe from the blockhouse to various buildings within the
fort thus eliminating the necessity of hauling water.
The horse-powered pump began operation on October 11,
1881. Dwight was also an accomplished author whose works
include, Annals of Fort Mackinac, Indian Names
(both were entered into the Library of Congress in
1888), Indian Names of Places Near the Great Lakes,
and History of the Sault Sainte Marie Canal. A
picture of Major Kelton hangs in the library, which also
bears his name.
Margaret, another of Bridget’s daughters, went to
Detroit in 1881, at the age of sixteen, to receive
training at Western Union and returned to manage the
Mackinac Island office. Margaret
married John McArdle,
in 1901, after an eight-year engagement. John was a
supervisor for Western Union in Detroit. Their children
were Katherine (Kitty), Anita, Susie, and Jack.
Nellie eventually took over the Western Union office for Margaret, who was
transferred to St. Ignace, and continued to manage the
Island office for over twenty-five years. It was
who named the house “Cloghaun” (Gaelic for stony
My father, James Thorpe Bond, died in 1955. Nellie died
in 1958. After her death my mother, Kitty, and my Aunt
Anita McDonnell managed the house during the summers and
were schoolteachers in Detroit in the winter. Anita died
Kitty had a great love of Cloghaun, Mackinac Island and
its history. She died in 1991 at the age of 80 and did
not see the completion of the renovation of Cloghaun,
which began in 1990. I believe that she would have been
proud of the improvements.
I look forward to sharing
Cloghaun with you.
- James Bond