|Jim McCarthy – An Appreciation
The passing of Jim McCarthy has left a great void in the North Cork literary scene. A man with special talents and a prolific memory, it was only on his retirement from Mitchelstown Creameries (now Dairygold) that he turned his hand to writing. He derived countless hours of pleasure from the research and writings of his favourite place – for although he had spent over 40 years of his life in Mitchelstown, his heart belonged in Ballinguile, Churchtown where he had grown up.
A native of Buttevant parish, Jim attended Churchtown National School and then went to work in Ryan’s of Charleville. From there he went to the Cork County Council where he was employed as a steamroller driver until the 1950s. From then until he retired, he worked as a cheese-maker with Mitchelstown Co-op. Jim had a lifelong interest in the history and folklore. He could recall from memory not alone the histories of all the ‘great houses’ but the seed, breed and generation of their occupants. He had the same ability when writing of the clergy and many times his knowledge was sought by clerics of all denominations seeking information of their parishes or predecessors.
His weekly features in The Avondhu and Vale Star were of the highest quality and were eagerly awaited in many a household.
To dwell solely on his interests in history would be an injustice to Jim because his other roles in life were played with the same dedication and efficiency. As a cheese-maker he had a national reputation and when he retired from Mitchelstown his services were sought in many quarters and many in the cottage cheese industry benefited from his expertise – Louis and Jane Grubb’s Cashel Blue being one example of a cheese that was developed through his knowledge and guidance.
He was also an expert in the running and maintaining of steam machinery. Another of Jim’s great passions in life was Irish traditional music, and he attended many a Fleadh Ceoil in the company of the local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri. At home, he enjoyed playing Irish tunes and ballads of his boyhood.
Jim was laid to rest in March 1996 in the picturesque Ballyhea graveyard, as he had always wished so that, as he said, he could hear the trains pass. On the day of his burial, a goods train passed on the nearby rail track. It was as if this engine was also paying its respects on behalf of the engines that Jim had worked on during his lifetime.
In his native place,
Churchtown Heritage Society
5 Kerry Lane
Co Cork P51 TCC6