First full biography of Cork doctor Aidan MacCarthy launched

Posted on: 5th September, 2016

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

‘There then followed a blue flash accompanied by a very bright magnesium-type flare … Then came a frighteningly loud but rather flat explosion which was followed by a blast of hot air…All this was followed by eerie silence.’

That’s how Dr Aidan MacCarthy described the dropping of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, just over a mile away from his makeshift shelter in the Mitsubishi POW camp.

Bob Jackson first heard of Dr Aidan MacCarthy over 16 years ago while working in a bar in Cork city. One of the regular customers, who had been in the RAF, told a story of a doctor in West Cork with a connection to the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. Intrigued, Bob travelled to MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletownbere where he met Aidan’s daughter Adrienne. He was stunned to learn that not only had Aidan survived the atomic bomb but Kusuno, the Japanese commander of the camp where Aidan had been held prisoner, had gifted his family’s ancestral samurai sword to him – an extraordinary act of sacrifice and gratitude after Aidan saved him from fellow POWs intent on revenge.

On August 20, Bob returned to MacCarthy’s Bar for the launch of A Doctor’s Sword (The Collins Press, price €19.99), the first full biography of this courageous doctor. The launch was co-hosted by Beara Historical Society as part of Heritage Week 2016.

A lecturer in Creative Media at the Institute of Technology, Tralee, Bob said, “Aidan MacCarthy was one of a handful of people who survived the two events that mark the beginning and end of the Second World War. He was evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk after three days of relentless attacks in May 1940, and he was trembling in a makeshift bomb shelter in the centre of Nagasaki when the atomic bomb destroyed the city on August 9, 1945.”

In the intervening years, Dr MacCarthy survived burning planes, sinking ships, jungle warfare, starvation, disease, captivity and slave labour. Aidan spent the final year of the war working as a slave for the Mitsubishi Steel & Arms Works, the Nagasaki factory that was the target of the atomic bomb on 9 August 1945. After the war, he was never bitter towards the Japanese but he did refuse to allow a Mitsubishi car in his driveway!

Bob continued, “I read Aidan’s memoir, which is a fascinating and engrossing account of his story but because of his genuine, self-effacing modesty, it’s often short on detail. Yet his character comes through more in what he does not say. I wasn’t surprised that, in the devastating aftermath of the atomic bomb, he was the first non-Japanese doctor to assist civilians. I wanted to know more about that samurai sword – especially since there was a possibility that the ashes of the officer’s ancestors were embedded in the handle – and after Aidan’s widow Kathleen mentioned there was a photo of the Japanese officer somewhere in their belongings, I persuaded his family to look for it.”

After years of searching, Aidan’s daughter Nicola found the photograph and travelled with Bob to Japan to find the family of the Japanese commander. In a moving encounter detailed in A Doctor’s Sword and in the critically-acclaimed documentary of the same name, they met the man’s descendants at a cemetery in Kyushu Island, including his grandson who credits his existence to Aidan’s act of selflessness in saving his grandfather’s life.

A Doctor’s Sword is the astonishing story of Dr Aidan MacCarthy’s wartime adventures, a story of survival, forgiveness and humanity at its most admirable.

A Doctor’s Sword – How an Irish Doctor Survived War, Captivity and the Atomic Bomb by Bob Jackson is published in hardback by The Collins Press, price €19.99. It is available in all good bookshops and online from www.collinspress.ie.

A new medical facility at RAF Honington where Aidan served during the war will be named in Aidan’s honour – the ceremony will be in February 2017.

Latest News Articles:

Clonakilty Fairtrade Fortnight celebrates 15 years
€44 million to improve Cork roads
Clonakilty Access Group AGM hears of many frustrations and challenges for people with disabilities in the town
Schull student scoops top invention award at BT Young Scientist
Schull Garda Station wins ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ award from Road Safety Authority
Go quackers at the 2018 West Cork Bird Race
Bandon in danger of losing its youth café
Local professionals invited to Anam Cara information pack launch
Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan shortlisted for Irish Planning Awards
Christmas on the beat

Join us on Facebook

Did you know..... ... See MoreSee Less

Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1jc2tlH75Q
... See MoreSee Less

16th February, 2018  ·  

Vikings talk in Clonakilty!

“The Viking Gold and Silver Hoards from County Cork” is the topic of the next Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage lecture on Thursday 22nd at the Parish Centre starting at 8pm.

It will be delivered by John Sheehan, senior lecturer in the Archaeology Department, UCC and a former member of the Heritage Council and the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Vikings were an important presence in Ireland for over two centuries. As well as inflicting great terror they were also responsible for introducing urbanism and new economic systems to the country.

In this talk the focus will be on the economy, looking at the gold and silver hoards that were buried in Co. Cork. It will also explore how these hoards were discovered, what happened to them, and where they are now!
... See MoreSee Less

15th February, 2018  ·  

Bandon Toastmasters is a club that helps people overcome Glossophobia, a fear of public speaking. The club is holding a night of inspirational and motivational speakers on February 22 that is a must for anybody wishing to overcome this phobia.
Tickets can be purchased either on the club's facebook page or through eventbrite.

www.eventbrite.ie/e/bandon-toastmasters-presents-ignite-your-potential-tickets-41871052445?aff=es2
... See MoreSee Less

13th February, 2018  ·  

Get your togs on in aid of Bantry lifeboat..... ... See MoreSee Less

8th February, 2018  ·  

Jump to:

Top