While Donal McCarthy was growing up in Dunmanway, young Joan Culverhouse, aged 18 months, was being deposited with her grandparents in Bandon, a town roughly half way along the road to Cork city. This was in the early 1930s.

No one is quite sure why the young English girl remained in Bandon, but she was to call it home for the next 17 years or so.

As we have seen, the McCarthys get everywhere. Joan’s grandparents were McCarthys. They lived a short way from the Protestant town of Bandon in a cottage in Kilbeg. A few years later they moved to Knockbrogan Cottage nearby.


Joan, my mother, at Kilbeg early 1930s and in August 1995

My great grandfather Patrick died in 1938 and great grandmother Margaret (in the first photo above) in 1949. In 1911 there was a tragedy with their young son John meeting with a fatal accident when driving a horse and cart along the road. They all lie in lonely Kilbrogan cemetery, the headstone having been erected in recent years. (Here’s a link to the image.)

Somewhere along the way Donal and Joan hooked up, joined the general emigration from Ireland and rocked up in Birmingham in about 1950. These were the days of landladies openly displaying signs saying ‘No Dogs, Blacks or Irish’.

The rest, as they say, is history.