Nancy MacCarthy | Letters 1916-1923

I hope you are both pretty bobbish! | Letters 1916 – 1923

Postcards from the Nancy McCarthy collection, UCC Archives

Anna Patricia (Nancy) McCarthy was born in 1902 to Charles and Annie McCarthy. She was one of ten McCarthy children: three girls and seven boys.

In 1916, Nancy was 14 and was boarding at the Brigidine Convent, Mountrath, Co. Laois with her sisters Eily and Florence. Her uncle, George D. Roche was on active service with the 7th London regiment in France and he regularly wrote postcards to Nancy and Eily while they were at school. 



The postcards

In his postcards, George remains upbeat. He reassures Nancy that while there are no rats where he is, “where they do live they are BIG and no mistake” and despite living in a small wooden hut in a field “the Padre’s gramophone is playing now (can’t you hear it?) and we are quite comfy”. We learn that in early March, they had quite a lot of snow on the Western Front and with it came “beaucoup snowballing!”. George intersperses little bits of French in his cards & jokes about his language skills being “No bon”!


Nancy McCarthy

© Frank O’Connor Research Website

After qualifying as a Chemist, Nancy went to worked for Boots in Birmingham, England before moving back to Cork city to work in Blair’s Chemist on Patrick Street 1926. In an unusual move for a single woman at that time, she opened her own chemist shop in Douglas in 1946 where she worked until she retired in 1986.

Throughout her life, Nancy played an active and influential role in the cultural life of Cork city. Her love of rural Ireland and the Irish language led her to spend many holidays in the Cork/Kerry Gaeltacht. In later life, she was a committee member of the Cork Orchestral Society, and an enthusiastic follower of the Cork Ballet Company and the Cork Film Festival. Nancy McCarthy died in October 1988, aged 86.


adapted from The Nancy McCarthy Collection by Archivist Emer Twomey


Leaving the Letters project…

The post above highlights a small collection of postcards from the Letters 1916-1923 project. I have been meaning to draw attention to these since I first saw them in UCC in 2015, when I was sourcing letters for the project from the UCC Archives and Special Collections.

Today is my last day working on the project, having been involved since its launch in 2013. One of my favourite things about Letters 1916-1923 has been coming across little gems like these postcards which give an important and fascinating insight into day-to-day life 100 years ago.

I have also really enjoyed organising events like Culture Night 2017 and meeting a wide variety of people  along the way – from the other members of the Letters 1916-1923 team, as well as people from various archives and museums, schools, members of the public who have added their precious family letters to the collection.

While I am sad to leave this great project, I am excited about finishing my PhD thesis and moving on to the next phase!

Emma Clarke



Links to the postcards

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 28 February 1916

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 8 March 1916

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 24 April 1916

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 2 September 1916

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 23 October 1916

Postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy McCarthy, 28 October 1916

WW1 Field Regulation postcard from George D. Roche to Nancy and Eily McCarthy, 17 September 1916