PADDY McCarthy wasn’t one of a kind. The Ballinadee farmer who passed away on May 1, 2020, was a triplet.
After he died tragically, his family set up a gofundmepage for Pieta House in his memory.
“Dad was a triplet. His brother Tom died in a farm accident in 1968. We love Uncle Gus. He is a ‘favourite’ uncle,” explains Paddy’s daughter, Rachel.
Along with her siblings, Anna, Thomas, and Niall, the family raised in excess of €25,000 for Pieta House following the tragic death of their father, aged 59.
Paddy, who dedicated so much of his life to the land, had a huge amount of pride and emotional attachment to his farming business, and at the heart of it was his family.
“He really loved the farm,” says Paddy’s son, Thomas.
“Farming is a lovely lifestyle, with the freedom of wide open spaces.
“Dad inherited the farm from his parents. He was recognised as a very good beef and tillage farmer. It was in the blood.”
Paddy loved walking the land.
“That is why it is such a shock,” Thomas adds.
“You’d think; how could he leave something behind that he loved so much? It is surreal.”
Paddy was a rock n’ roller too.
“He loved Bruce Springsteen; he loved dancing. He just loved life.”
Farming in rural Ireland can be a lonely life.
“It is such an isolating job anyway,” says Thomas, who travelled back from Whistler, near Vancouver, for his father’s funeral.
“They might have a mart once a week or some social event once a week. Now, they don’t have even have that, it makes them feel more lonely.
“In lockdown, dad became quieter. It is important that they go and talk to someone.
“We need to come together and spread the word and help raise much needed funds for Pieta House.”
Paddy, like many of his generation, didn’t talk about his feelings.
A report published by Men’s Health Forum Ireland and the HSE found farmers and people living in rural isolation are among groups most vulnerable. Researchers found that the highest risk groups likely to die by suicide are men aged 45-54.
“The ones who don’t speak or talk; they are the ones who do it (suicide),” says Thomas.
“You think, how could I not have seen it? How could I not have done anything? But, sure, there is no way you could have known about dark depressive thoughts.”
Paddy, who loved life and who was the life and soul of the party, wasn’t known to be down or depressed.
“He had a great sense of humour,” says Thomas.
“Dad was always laughing.
“He loved barbecues, parties, and having the craíc. He had a huge presence.”
Paddy had a huge work ethic too.
“Dad was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known,” says Thomas. “He had such pride in the farm. He loved it.”
Thomas, who says the family are going through a ‘sad old time’, and are still in shock, will always celebrate Paddy’s fruitful life.
“We’ll celebrate Father’s Day,” says Thomas.
“We’ll buy a card and a case of beer and we’ll mark the day. Mum and dad’s 30th wedding anniversary is in June too.”
The family are celebrating the fact that donations for Pieta House have exceeded all their expectations. They asked the public to continue to donate to Pieta House in challenging times.
“We were outside on the patio having a drink when the fund went to €10,000,” says Thomas.
“We said ‘Cheers to dad’. We are delighted with all the donations.
“On the morning of Darkness into Light, we got up and walked down to the local church and back home again in memory of dad.”
The McCarthys, brought up in the lush wooded banks of the river Bandon near the sailing town of Kinsale, are blessed with good friends and neighbours.
“We have a great support system with great family, neighbours, friends and cousins we are close to,” says Thomas.
“Mum is staying strong.”
Rachel has lovely memories of her father.
“Every Thursday night, I’d drive dad and his best friend Paddy into Kinsale.
“Dad was a big fan of the band Crazy Chester and Niall McCabe. He loved going to their gigs. He soaked up the music.”
Niall McCabe remembers Paddy’s huge presence.
“He filled the bar with his energy and joy,” says Niall. “I am proud to say he was a friend of mine.”
Rachel, charmed by the two Paddies, was often stopped in her tracks.
“I’d get in the car again at 1am or even 2am and go and pick the two boys up from Kinsale to bring them home. I thought; I must be mad! But you know, I really loved watching them enjoy themselves,” says Rachel.
“Thursday nights will never be the same again.”
Paddy McCarthy, a traditional farmer, had traditional values.
“He was the provider for the family,” says Rachel.
“Dad never spoke about problems. His way of solving a problem was just to keep on working. He prevented himself from speaking. Talking things out is the more healthy option.”
Paddy, the salt of the earth, was a strong, hard-working man, dealing with long hours of manual work, increased regulations, unpredictable weather and higher costs; challenges familiar to the farming fraternity.
“I think dad thought it was’ less mannish’ to talk about problems,” says Rachel. “That talking is a sign of weakness. It’s not. If dad had opened up, things might be different.”
Paddy, like all of us in testing times, was sometimes prompted to open up.
“After a long days’ work or a little bit of alcohol, his tongue was loosened up a bit,” says Rachel.
“He’d let his guard down. But then, he’d cover up, and say, ‘I’m fine’. He always kept a ‘good’ face; the strong independent farmer.
“The last day before dad died, he was out and about on the farm feeding the calves. It was a normal day.”
Rachel says the generous response from the public for Pieta House has been incredible.
“It is the power of family. The fundraiser was a way of helping us cope.”
The vital funds will help Pieta House help other people to cope with mental health problems.
Rachel, always remembering those Thursday nights that her dad was moving and grooving to the sweet sound of music; will always be connected to him.
“I’m studying horticulture in CIT,” she says. “I hope to continue dad’s legacy on the farm. Things, though, will never the same. Dad, at 59, was in the prime of his life. He was a larger than life figure. He was one of a kind.”
For anyone seeking support, Pieta House can be contacted on Freephone:1800 247-247.
Mind our Farm Families, through IFA and Pieta House, have a dedicated suicide and self-harm phoneline for IFA members: 1890-130-022 To donate to the McCarthy fundraiser for Pieta House see https://www.darknessintolight.ie/sunrise-appeal