MacCarthy's on Main Street since the 1860s
It was in 1860 that Michael Patrick McCarthy, the great-grandfather of Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy, put up a building on Main Street, Castletownbere, and opened a general store.
He was approached by Guinness to see if he would apply for a licence to sell wines and spirits, and he did. It was one of the first liquor licences granted in Ireland. Apparently, Michael’s wife Ellen wasn’t too keen on the idea, although she continued to look after the grocery side of the business.
Their son Denis Florence - popularly known as D F - married Julia Murphy, of Church Gate, Castletownbere, and they had ten children, one of whom, Aidan, born 1913, would become the father of Adrienne and Niki.
D F took over the family business, adding salt, grain and cold stores and a bakery. With farmland at the rear of the premises, it became a thriving concern. Soon, a top floor was added to the two-storey building.
And it was D F who, more than a century ago, installed a mosaic at the entrance, with his name ‘D F McCarthy’ on it, using Italian tilers who were working nearby at the Church of the Sacred Heart (built 1912). From the First World War, the British fleet was in Bantry Bay and D F supplied the Navy with bread from his bakery.
After D F died in 1954, Jim, an older brother of Aidan, ran the business, assisted by a sister Eileen and another brother, Michael, not forgetting the housekeeper Nora O’Shea who was with the family for 50 years.
Jim died in 1977 and the grocery store and bar was kept ticking over for two years until Adrienne returned from England, where she was working, to run it.
* MacCarthy's Fab Four - Alfie, Paddy, Rocky and Becky. Adrienne and Niki MacCarthy have kept pugs since the early 1990s, probably the most famous being Bailey who featured on the cover of Pete McCarthy's best-selling book McCarthy's Bar (see the Pete McCarthy page).
Her father feared the business might be sold if she didn’t take it on (after retiring from the RAF, Aidan and his family lived in Northwood – he worked in London as a civilian medical practitioner until he was 80).
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the grocery store was still the most active side of the business, especially as it continued to supply the fishing industry and the lighthouse keepers around West Cork.
Niki returned to Castletownbere from England in 1991 and opened a restaurant, ‘Niki’s’, just down the street from the MacCarthy building which she ran for 14 years.
* Slideshow photos from 'Beara’s Pictorial Past Vol. 2' (2003), compiled by the Beara Historical Society.
* Denis McCarthy's floor mosaic at the entrance to MacCarthy's Bar.
* From left: D F and Julia McCarthy,
D F in later life, Aidan and Kathleen on their wedding day in 1948, and Niki and Adrienne new in the world.
* Above left: Aidan, in MacCarthy's Bar. Above right: Kathleen in later years. Far left: Niki in the bar with a portrait of her father, his service medals and his Japanese sword, the Second World War secret of which took 70 years to unravel. Left: Niki, Kathleen and Adrienne outside the bar.
* The grave of Aidan and Kathleen MacCarthy at the Droum cemetery, Castletownbere.