SHORTLY before his September retirement, the UK ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett, visited MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere to learn more about the remarkable wartime story of Dr Aidan MacCarthy.
The bar owners, Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy told The Southern Star: ‘It was an important visitor for us.’
To mark the occasion, they presented Mr Barnett with a copy of their father’s book, A Doctor’s War, and a copy of the movie A Doctor’s Sword, which was produced by Bob Jackson.
Fachtna O’Donovan of the Beara Historical Society also made a presentation – a copy of the society’s book, Beara’s Pictorial Past. The former ambassador, a keen walker, said he enjoyed his first visit to Beara so much that he was planning a return visit to walk the Beara Way, and the MacCarthy women promised to help him plan his routes.
Mr Barnett’s visit came about as a result of a tour of Cork and Kerry with his businessman friend Paul Smithwick, a director of Smithwick’s Brewery, and founder of Sullivan’s Ale.
Already having read A Doctor’s War, as well as Pete McCarthy’s 1998 bestseller McCarthy’s Bar – Mr Barnett was interested to visit Dr MacCarthy’s birthplace, and throughout the visit social distancing was observed.
Before visiting MacCarthy’s Bar, Mr Barnett launched Marc O’Sullivan Vallig’s book, People of the Sea: A Maritime History of Beara, at the pier in Castletownbere.
Mr Barnett was welcomed to the town by Jim O’Sullivan of Beara Tourism and Larry Murphy, owner and skipper of local fishing vessel, Menhaden.
‘It’s my first time here in Beara, and it’s fantastic,’ said Mr Barnett. ‘I’m learning about the British history in Berehaven, and the real importance of fishing in the area.’
He became British ambassador to Ireland in August 2016. From 2011, he was British ambassador to Poland, his career previously having concentrated on Central and Eastern Europe and multi-lateral diplomacy. He had also been posted to Vienna, New York and Bucharest.