LURED to Cork by romance almost 50 years ago, Englishman Albert McCarthy says he loves Cork’s laid back approach to life, which he shares with his Kinsale wife Pat.
Albert, a businessman turned psychotherapist, says his first love is sport, mostly in the form of rugby or golf, followed closely by his connection to Cork.
“I am a former player with Crosshaven RFC (two seasons) and with Old Christians RFC (17 seasons),” he told The Echo.
“I’m also former team captain and club president and club treasurer with Old Christians and I have been a member of Monkstown Golf Club since 1985. I play golf, when the course is open.
“My family always regarded Ireland as home. We were constantly reminded that we were Irish. I always wanted to live in Ireland so moving wasn’t really a big deal for me.”
Born in Hertfordshire in England, Albert had strong ties to Ireland and visited regularly as his parents were from Laois and Kerry. But it was at a disco in Kinsale at the age of 17 where Albert found a reason to settle in Ireland for good.
Holidaying with his friend’s family in the coastal town, Albert met a girl at a disco in the Trident Hotel.
At the time, Albert was a trainee accountant in London, but the pair kept in contact across the water. In 1975, at the age of 21, Albert moved to Cork to be with his Cork lass.
Chatting about Cork’s way of life, Albert said: “I love the fun-loving attitude. There was so much pressure, rushing and working in London. In Cork, there was loads of time and space. I loved living by the sea. Still do!
“People still had time for each other and it was normal to help each other out. You could start a conversation with anyone and not be treated with suspicion or being odd in some way.”
Albert was the managing director of a multinational company for many years before buying a business in Little Island. He ran this for three years before folding, having been hard hit by fluctuations in the value of sterling to the then Irish punt.
It was after this life experience that Albert began attending psychotherapy sessions, which he continued for 10 years, before training as a psychotherapist himself.
Now, 46 years after moving to Cork, Albert and his Kinsale sweetheart Pat are still together, living in Monkstown.
They have four children, three of whom live overseas with one still in Cork. The pair had a fifth child, Patrick, who died as a child due to a congenital heart condition.
No stranger to tragedy, Albert’s brother Dominic was murdered over 20 years ago, something Albert said was difficult to deal with.
“It was really hard.”
Speaking about the loss of his son Patrick and his brother Dominic, Albert said: “I have had a lot to deal with and it doesn’t go away.”
Albert said the Cork philosophical attitude of getting on with things has always suited him.
“As a psychotherapist, you don’t pretend it hasn’t happened, but it’s life and you have to make the best of it. I think Cork people try to be happy in tough times. The attitude is not to take life too seriously. Life is there to be lived, there are times to be serious and then there are times to have a laugh.”
Qualified as a psychotherapist for the past 21 years, Albert has spent the past decade working with the Men’s Group at Nano Nagle Place, offering support and guidance to men struggling with loneliness, isolation, addiction, or mental health.
A haven of activity, Albert described Nano Nagle Place as a community hub that runs a range of vital services for Cork’s society such as being the home of Cork’s Migrant centre, integrating and advising immigrants in Ireland and the Lantern project.
At the age of 67, Albert still works as a private psychotherapist as well as engaging with the Men’s Group and is trained to work specifically with adolescents as well as with adults.
Since the pandemic, Albert said he has been busier than usual with issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, and couples having relationship troubles stemming from spending too much time together.
The psychotherapist said he has also noticed that his younger clients prefer in-person sessions at his clinic on South Terrace, while his older clients are more inclined to favour online sessions.
Looking ahead, Albert said his time in Cork is only beginning.
“For many years I struggled with my identity. My strong sense of being Irish was not accepted purely because of my London accent. There were times when I felt that my place was somewhere in the Irish Sea. Didn’t fit in England and was not accepted as Irish in Ireland. This issue did get me into a few altercations during the early years. I am at peace with that now. I know who I am and don’t need approval of that from others.”
Looking to the future, Albert said he is here to stay.
“I bought a grave,” he quipped.