When Billy McCarthy, and his good friend Mick O’Byrne arrived in Athassel Abbey, little did either think that - 35 years on - both would still be employed in its upkeep.
Both Billy and Mick arrived in Golden in November 1978 on the first day of a short term contract with the OPW - which was supposed to finish at Christmas, but 35 years on both are still employed in the maintenance of our national monuments.
Last Friday Billy called time on his tenure, though Mick has a bit to go yet. During his years with the OPW the genial Billy worked on all the major projects undertaken by the Office; The Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle, Kilcooley Abbey, Athassel Abbey, St Dominics Abbey, The Main Guard, Clonmel and the many Raths and Forts that are dotted around the county. Last Friday night in Foley’s Bar on Friar Street, workmates, colleagues, family and friends joined Billy at a function to celebrate his retirement. Glowing tributes (usually reserved for when the recipient is tsuas ar neamh) were the order of the night, which tended to leave the usually talkative Billy a little caught for words in reply. Billy has had many interesting conversations with global figures down the years: he exchanged pleasantries with the Queen of England during her visit in 2011. Billy has a hugh interest in all sports but in particular Cashel and Tipperary hurling and in recognition of this Tipperary U/21 hurling manager TJ Connolly, made a presentation of a framed Tipperary jersey signed by the entire senior hurling panel. T.J referred to Billy as the quintessential Cashel Man who takes great pride in all aspects of his native place. Presentations were also made by work colleagues Tommy Gleeson and Mick Lehane. Festivities went on in to the small hours and in the words of the late Fr. Lambe, “A Great night was had by all”. We wish Billy health, wealth and happiness in his retirement.