Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Hillsborough man who was a guest of the Queen Mother
passes away

Mr. McCarthy greets the Queen Mother during a garden party at Hilsborough.

Mr. McCarthy greets the Queen Mother during a garden party at Hilsborough.

Mr. Victor Cuthbert McCarthy with his wire Anne.A LOCAL man held in such high regard by the Queen Mother that he stayed at Glamis Castle as her guest has passed away.

Victor Cuthbert McCarthy, who died at the end of last month, treasured memories of these visits all his life and often told his family how he swapped ghost stories with the former Elizabeth Bowes Lyon while sitting in front of the Castle's 'roaring fire. His daughter Victoria outlined one memorable occasion when the Queen Mother stopped a car in which she was being driven away from Hillsborough forcing the following vehicle to also come to a halt.

This, she explained, was being driven by her father who was employed as a Chauffeur at Government House.

He immediately got out of his own car and went to the one in front where he asked what was wrong. Victoria said The Queen Mother told him she could not leave without saying goodbye to her 'Irish Boy'.

Mr. McCarthy first came into contact with the Royal Family when he took up a footman's position at Government House after returning from armed service during the Second World War.

His employer was the then Governor of Northern Ireland Lord Granville whose wife Lady Granville was one of the Queen Mother's sisters.

He moved on to the position of chauffeur and enjoyed many visits to the Scottish stately home where Victoria said he always felt he was 'treated like one of the family.

On occasions, she added, Lord Granville took the wheel while her father sat in the rear of the car.

Mr. McCarthy also travelled with the Governor and his wife to their flat in London where he had to 'nip out' at times to purchase muffins which were served when the Queen Mother called to have tea with her sister. When Lord Granville's period as Governor came to an end he offered his chauffeur a fully stocked 60 acre farm in Scotland.

However, Victoria explained her father felt unable to avail of this opportunity as her grandfather was very frail at the time.

Lord Granville was succeeded by Lord Wakehurst but the Queen Mother never forgot Mr. McCarthy.

During the years that followed he was a guest at many garden parties.

One of these was hosted by the Queen Mother who specifically asked for him to be invited.

She was told by this stage he had grown more facial hair so she joked she would 'just look out for a beardy man.

Victoria said family members suspect her father forged a 1919 birth certificate to enable him to join the Royal Navy at the age of just 16.

They believe he was in fact born on October 3, 1923 at Demniville Avenue in Maze.

His parents moved their family to Dromore Road in Hillsborough while he was a young boy and he attended Maze Primary School.

'He used to call it Maze University and also claimed to have gone to Friends School because he said 'we were all friends there'," Victoria added

Mr. McCarthy left school at the age of 13 and worked for local farmers until he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.

During the Second World War he served on the battleship King George V, motor torpedo boats and on aircraft carriers.

These vessels worked in the North Sea, the Atlantic, Irish Sea, Orkneys and Scapa Flow and his main role was aircraft maintenance.

His employment at Government House began at the end of the conflict and 10 years later, on St. Patrick's Day 1956 he married Anne Lyness, a farmer's daughter from Portadown.

He went on to work as a bus driver in Co. Tyrone and was employed by the Ministry of Agriculture at Stormont and was also well known in Lisburn as an ambulance driver.

He indulged his passion for flying at Newtownards and later at Aldergrove based Woodgate Aviation, achieving his ambition to hold a solo licence.

The McCarthys celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on March 17 2006 but Anne sadly passed away just three months later on June 22. Mr. McCarthy suffered declining health, first being cared for at Anahilt Residential Home before moving to Lisadian Nursing Home.

His long life drew to a very peaceful close on October 27 while he was surrounded by family members.

He was laid to rest in Hillsborough Parish Graveyard following a very well attended service in Priesthill Methodist Church.

Ulster Star