WHILE Father’s Day is a cause for celebration and a chance for dads around the country to be treated and spoilt, it can be a stark reminder for those who grew up without a dad, or for those who lost their dad.
Not everyone has a chance to spend their entire life with their dad for so many different reasons.
“Dads should be celebrated and cherished,” says Philip McLaughlin, who, along with his brothers, Dave and Barry, and their sister, Diane, thought fondly about their late dad, Joe, yesterday on Father’s Day.
Joe passed away in the Mercy Hospital last July.
“Sons and daughters should enjoy spending every minute with their dads and make the most of them,” adds Philip
Joe McLaughlin was a well-known businessman and vet in Bandon. Most of all, he was a family man.
“He fought a dignified, brave battle against cancer.”
Philip and his brother Dave, who co-own the Grey Heron in Bandon, got a chance to say thank you to the doctors and staff of the Mercy Hospital who looked after their dad and his family when he was ill.
“We revamped and rebranded the Grey Heron, the former Bandon Craft Centre, bringing the Skylight Gallery downstairs into the shop to increase visibility of artist’s work and to add to the visitor experience,” says Philip.
“When lockdown was announced due to Covid-19, artist Mary Ffrench was holding an art exhibition in the gallery which couldn’t go ahead,” explains Philip.
“Mary came to us to discuss raffling one of her amazing paintings, Red Sky, for charity and we decided together on the Mercy Hospital Foundation.
“It was one way of saying thank-you to the wonderful staff of the Mercy and to the oncology team there who took such good care of our dad, and good care of us when he was diagnosed with cancer and when he was being treated.”
Joe McLaughlin treated his sons like mates when they were growing up.
“We lived in the old Protestant house, ‘Le Manse’ in Bandon,” says Philip. “Dad’s father, Patrick Joe (PJ) McLaughlin, opened the Medical Hall in Bandon in 1947. The following year, he branched out to specialise in the needs of the farming community, recognising the importance of crop protection. He opened the Bandon Craft Centre across the road in 1978.”
PJ often delivered farm supplies to local farmers on his bike.
Philip, Dave, and Barry remember doing local runs with their dad, Joe, when he was called out to attend a farm animal.
“My brothers and I have fond memories of jumping into the Jeep with dad when he got a call from a local farmer to deliver a calf or a lamb,” says Philip. “Mum or one of us kids used to take the calls every evening at home. Dad had a walkie-talkie system to keep in contact. ‘We’d say ‘Come in Dad. Over!’ And he’d come back to us by radio contact. It was like a call centre!
It was really exciting for us as youngsters,” says Philip.
“We used to love going off on the road with dad in the Jeep out on farm calls. We were great mates.”
There were treats in store.
“We’d be called into the farmhouse for lunch or tea and cake after the animal was delivered. It was great!”
Joe was the second generation of McLaughlins who took over the family businesses of the pharmacy and the farm store. Two farm stores are located in Bandon and Mitchelstown. The third on Ship Street, Cork, closed just before the pandemic after trading for 70 years.
Joe, a well-known and much loved vet in Bandon since the 1970s, had just turned 70 when he went to hospital for scans to investigate an on-going chest problem.
“He had chest problems for about 10 years,” says Philip. “He was in and out of hospital, but without any definite results. It was when he had an X-ray that a pancreatic tumour showed up on the screen. It was a shock.”
Because Joe was always there for them, his family — his wife, Pauline, sons Philip, Dave, and Barry, and daughter, Diane, were there for Joe when he needed them most.
“Dad was a really positive, loving person,” says Philip. “He was a great dad to all of us and he was very supportive. He was very approachable.”
The staff of the Mercy Hospital looked after Joe and his family in their time of need.
“The staff gave the best of care to dad and they looked after us as well when we were up and down to the hospital every day.”
Joe, a loving, supportive dad, was a typical father when it came to his only daughter.
“Diane tells the story about when she was in her teenage years out at the local disco one night.”
She didn’t expect to see her dad there.
“Dad arrived into the disco hall to pick her up to bring her home. He was in his farm gear wearing his mucky wellingtons! Diane was mortified!”
And there were other dramatic family outings.
“Dad brought us to Old Trafford to see Manchester United play,” says Philip.
“He always remembered during one United match we were a bit fed up by the 78th minute without a score for our team. Then Roy Keane pulled off a fantastic goal out of nowhere. Dad said our faces just lit up like magic!
“Dad was a rugby fan too and he brought us to lots of Munster rugby games when we were older. They were great times spent with dad.”
Joe McLaughlin, businessman and vet, was also a musician.
“He was a mean fiddle player,” says Philip.
“There was a local group that he loved playing music sessions with; The Lads. Every year they would go to local nursing homes and hospitals to entertain the clients and the patients. And we’d always have a lively Christmas work party!”
Not surprisingly, being a vet, Joe loved animals.
“When he and mum worked and lived in the UK, dad had a customer who said he didn’t want his dog any more. Dad mentioned to mum that the golden retriever was a lovely dog, and Lana came home to live with them. She had a very happy life.”
The McLaughlins, growing up in Bandon in between two hills in the heart of the town, with the ripple of the river alongside, had a very happy childhood.
“Yes, we did,” says Philip.
“We’d sit around the table together for a meal at family gatherings. Dad loved having his family around him.”
Philip has a constant reminder of his dad in his own home.
“My wife, Aoife, and I got a golden retriever four years after dad was diagnosed with cancer,” says Philip. “We called him Joe after my dad.”
The former Bandon Craft Centre ran by the McLaughlin brothers is called the Grey Heron.
“The Grey heron is synonymous with the Bandon River,” says Philip.
No doubt Bandon native, vet Joe McLaughlin would approve.