By Helen Riddell
Large crowds attended the funeral of Castletownbere fisherman John McCarthy on his native Bere Island.
John lost his life in a drowning accident in Killybegs last Thursday week, as he was returning to the trawler Menhaden, which was moored in Killybegs Harbour.
A search was launched when he was discovered missing the following morning. His body was later recovered by the Killybegs Coast Guard team.
John, who was in his late 50s, was an engineer on the Menhaden and had been with the boat’s owners, the Murphy family, for nearly 40 years.
As his cortege left Killybegs for the long journey home to Castletownbere, a lone piper led the hearse along the quayside past the Menhaden, and his crewmates and members of the Killybegs Coast Guard formed a guard of honour. In 2016 John and his crewmates on Menhaden were one of several boats which went to assist in the search for the Coast Guard helicopter R116.
John was waked in Harrington’s funeral home in Castletownbere and as a mark of respect the Castletownbere St Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled. The island ferry brought John home to Bere Island on the morning of his funeral, the hearse calling first to his island home at Cloughland before bringing him to St Michael’s Church.
Gifts brought to the altar included a guitar and an Eagles CD to signify John’s love of music, a hat which he was never without, a vice grip to signify his work as an engineer, and a crew jacket from the Mehanden.
The small island church was full to capacity with many more standing outside as John was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery overlooking Berehaven harbour. The fisherman’s song Fiddler’s Green was sung over his grave. John is survived by his wife Rita, daughter Debbie, sons Shane and Mikey, his three grandchildren, brother, sisters, his crewmates and his many friends.