This etching signed "R Munich" was a gift to me from the great man on his return from Cambridge. Treasured.





The etching is of the Palaces of Justice, Quai de l'Horloge, Paris and may be from the 19th century. Here is a recent picture from a close spot.
FRANCIS IRANAEUS McCARTHY
(31.12.1920 - 07.01.2010)


Francis Iranaeus McCarthy - a great teacher, a mentor, something of a guru, and for me, in my adolescent years, a person who was the worldly big brother or wize father figure that I had missed in growing up.

Frank McCarthy was such a learned and generous person, no less for for an alienated kid such as me for whom he always had thoughtful time. He brought art and music to my world, one where otherwise such things were fanciful. He, with such grace, engendered self-confidence and self-assurance in me and stimulated and affirmed my inquiring mind. He was a special person for me, and certainly for a vast number of others.

My most impressive memory of him - a treasured memory - was of the first Student Art Exhibition where I had entered two images. I was summoned out of class to be congratulated, praised and applauded by him for my 'fine works'. I was so apprehensive and timid about entering my paintings and so elated by his actions and words.

The image here is of him when I knew him best, he must have been nearly 40 years old then (around 1963). It is from his graduation from Cambridge University, Faculty of Fine Arts (he was a member of Pembroke College) where he was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy***. He had left the school I was at (Parade College) to take up his studies in the UK and France. I had been promoted at that time, and on his direction I do believe, to Head Prefect at the College. Apart from his time at Pembroke, he was also quite proud of the fact that he had while in Europe, a teaching post** in a French University where he taught French Literature*. I too was very impressed and proud to know such a clever person and have him as a friend - told everyone.

We corresponded in those days and he took action an many points that I raised about the teaching and teachers in my school. Later I met him on a number of occasions and some of these ended up with a 'competitive' slide show where he would present his fine collection of art and demand that I identify and comment on his treasured images - from the far lesser me.

A final note, he 'represented' my father at my wedding delivering a typically generous and endearing speech to the duly impressed attendees. A great honour for me for sure.

He was so loved by many, many people. I treasure his memory as my own.


POSTSCRIPT:

Frank must have impressed his colleagues and students in France so much as they gave him a quantity of wine to take away with him. I later met him in Melbourne, he was teaching at St Kevin's, and on departing from him he gave me a bottle from that cache. Sometime later I took it to a 'bring-your-own-wine' restaurant. The wine waiter objected to opening such a fine wine. Sadly I cannot remember what it was though but it must have been a great statement.

FURTHER POSTSCRIPT:

While I don't wish to focus on certain aspects of the College, corporeal punishment was the order of the day - it was a 'Christian Brothers College' no less - but Frank McCarthy was never a part of that regime. Apparently he did once and only once break his strict rule of non-violence as he confessed to my former contemporary at Parade, one John Puls, "You are the only boy I have ever found it necessary to punish!", Frank McCarthy is reported to have said. "Quite proud to have been so special!", retorted John Puls in a recent note.

PPS:

Apparently I have got this slightly wrong. The gift of fine wine actually came from one of Frank's former students, Frank McDermott. (Note added 11/2011.)

Note*:

Frank's time in the French university, which I mention above, seems not to have been documented in obituaries. It would be interesting to know more. (Note added 11/2011.)

Note**:

I have tried to search the title and find some more details of his doctoral thesis too. I will do further research on that. (Note added 11/2011.)

Note***:

The title of his thesis was: "The treatment of mountain scenery by some British writers and artists in the eighteenth century, with special attention to North Wales."

He told me at the time that his research had lead him to the discovery of paintings which he was able to establish were at the very origins of the Romantic Movement, so his work was of great significance.

On his return he lent me some reference materials (on the Romanic Movement), for my research on a History of Architecture essay at Melbourne University. My tutor was astounded that I was able to refer to such obscure and illuminating references and rewarded me with great accolades - I was again honoured to know the man.(Note added 12/2011.)