Ted McCarthy – An Appreciation

Ebullient and respected news photographer

Ted McCarthy: A boundless enthusiasm for photography

Ted McCarthy: A boundless enthusiasm for photography


From graphic photographs of the Whiddy Island disaster which claimed 50 lives, the aftermath of the Air India bomb atrocity off the southwest coast, or of buyers and sellers at Cahirmee horse fair, photojournalist Ted McCarthy, who died at the age of 80 on May 28th, covered major news events in Munster for almost 50 years.

An ebullient character, full of fun, he was in the style of a traditional newsman in his approach to the job of supplying pictures to national and international papers. Brimming with a brand of enthusiasm that was infectious, visiting photographers unfamiliar with the territory enjoyed working with him because he was a mine of well-informed contacts.

From the time he bought his first professional camera, until his retirement, he had a boundless enthusiasm for photography. Coming late to his chosen profession, he learned about the complexities of light and shade from fellow photographers while on the job.

If his first pictures were a bit “grainy”, he soon overcame that problem as he learned more from fellow photographers who numbered him among their closest friends. His work began to feature more frequently in the pages of the national press.

His enthusiasm was such that as former Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times, Dick Hogan recalled: “At times he would drive to Dublin with a roll of film and drive back to Cork again just to be sure it got published the next day, and he did quite often with no thought to the cost of the journey or the fact that he couldn’t possibly make money by doing that.”

Adding that he was “irreverent in everything he did”, he said McCarthy had “no respect for titles or authority and treated everyone as he would be treated himself, cutting through any pomposity, usually with some side quip. It’s sad to hear of his passing.”

Born in Cork on April 19th, 1937, he was educated by the Christian Brothers, and shortly after leaving school he entered All Hallows missionary seminary in Dublin to study for the priesthood.

Transferred to continue his studies at Oregon in America, he was conferred with a doctorate in divinity but decided to leave the seminary just before he was ordained.

On returning to Ireland, he worked briefly as a mason in the monumental stone company founded by his grandfather but opted out of the McCarthy family business after a brief spell as the work was not to his liking.

Instead, he made a career in photography. Though separated from his wife, Bernie, they remained good friends and he was staying with her in Kerry shortly before his death. A compulsive reader of science fiction and a jazz fan, he also had an extensive collection of American police memorabilia which his former wife has offered to the Garda Síochána so that it can be put on display.

He is survived by his son, Michael and daughters Margaret, Monica and Karen and his former wife, Bernie.