The Nassau County AOH Feis has named Irish Examiner publisher Paddy McCarthy its 2010 honoree.
Paddy was born in Ballyphehane, Cork City, into a family of seven boys and two girls. Like most Irish families of the time, the McCarthys lived a happy life, in humble conditions. On leaving school, Paddy tried his hand at several occupations, including shoe manufacturing and working for CIE on the Cork docks.
In the era of the show band and thronged dance halls, like Enniskeane’s Lilac and Cork City’s Arcadia Ballroom, Paddy was energized by the buzz and excitement of it all. By age 17, he was a professional drummer playing with various bands, including his mainstay “Sunset”. Within a short time, the Ballyphehane boy was promoting concerts around Ireland. The Chieftains, Dire Straits, Clannad and Loudon Wainwright III were just some of the well known groups in his portfolio.
By the early 1980s, the Irish economy had sunk into dire recession. Unemployment was in the double digits. The City by the Lee was devastated. Old mainstays of Cork’s work force such as Ford’s, Dunlop’s, Sunbeam and other entities were crumbling, as the economy acclimatized to the harsh criteria of European Community membership.
Like many of his contemporaries, Paddy set out on the well trodden emigrant path to the United States. By 1982, he had begun his New York career working as a bartender, behind the sticks on Second Avenue. It was around this time that the Ballyphehane boy came under the wing of one of the godfathers of the Cork community, in New York, Joe Murphy a native of Cullen. Within a short time Paddy had been press ganged into the, then, County Corkmen’s Association, at its headquarters, on 58th St., in Woodside. The two Rebels have remained close collaborators ever since.
In 1988, Paddy joined the Irish Voice newspaper, eventually becoming advertising director. In the early 1990s, he left the Irish Voice to open his own bar, the thriving Nevada Smith’s in Manhattan. Always one to simultaneously juggle many balls, Paddy also took on the position of advertising director in World of Hibernia Magazine. In 2000, Paddy, along with other business associates, launched the prestigious Irish Connections magazine, which continues to provoke and inspire. In 2006, the boy from Ballyphehane, launched yet another publication, a weekly Irish American newspaper, the Irish Examiner.
Paddy is married to Patricia, who hails from East Meadow, Long Island. They are the proud parents of Christina, who is a graduate of Manhattan College, and son James, who attends Nassau Community College in Garden City, Long Island.
Paddy is a perfect encapsulation of the legendary Irish immigrant wit, initiative and perseverance. James Joyce once described the necessary qualifications for an Irishman to succeed as being “silence, cunning and exile”. In the case of Paddy, we could debate about the first qualification, but there is no doubt about the other two. No matter how much success he enjoys, Paddy will always regard himself, first and foremost, as just a “Cork boy”, proud of his native city and county, even though as he says himself, his “feet are now firmly planted here in the United States”.
The County Cork Association wishes Paddy, Patricia and all the McCarthy clan much good fortune and prosperity in the future.