'Two Walls and a Roof' author John Ml. is person of month

Raised in poverty, Buttevant man grew up a genius

Published 09/05/2013 | 09:49

John received the award to mark the publication of his book Two Walls and a Roof, which charts the history of his family from the 1950s onwards, including his own career as a pioneering radio electronics expert and New Product Inventor, plus his work with the National Independent Radio Charity Appeals.  Pictured l/r Manus OCallaghan, Awards Organiser; John Cahill, Cork Person of the Month; John Lehane, Lexus Cork (Sponsor); JoAnn Cahill, Pat Lemasney, Southern (Sponsor). Picture, Tony O'Connell Photography.
At the Cork Person of the Month presentation were, from left: Manus O’Callaghan, Awards Organiser; John Cahill, Cork Person of the Month; John Lehane, Lexus Cork (Sponsor); JoAnn Cahill, Pat Lemasney, Southern (Sponsor). Picture, Tony O'Connell Photography.

BORN into poverty in a house that used to be an alleyway, John Michael Cahill's book 'Two Walls and a Roof' charts the history of a family and their town from the 1950's onwards.

John's book swings from Angela's Ashes type humour to tragedy, but mostly back to humour, and despite his modest beginnings he showed signs from an early age of his genius with electronics, science and as an inventor.

"All those of a certain age will recognise the Ireland, and particularly the hard schooling, which John describes, and it is very important such social history is preserved, and the life and times of a family - living, laughing and surviving in small towns like Buttevant - is recorded for posterity."

So said Manus O'Callaghan as he announced John Michael at the Cork Person of the Month for April.

Manus is an organiser of the Cork Person of the Year awards - but he's also a Mallow man.

John Michael was awarded the April accolade to mark the telling of his North Cork stories, as well as his genius at electronics when, as a young man, he had the engineering expertise to establish some of the first local radio stations in Ireland.

He is still involved in radio today, as well as video production.

His inventive skills have seen him lodge numerous patents, and recently he and his brother, Hugh, as well as their business partner Gerard O'Connor, have succeeded in being granted two US Patents that will help to cure the condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis.

"I think my proudest achievement was providing the engineering for Ireland's first Joint National Independent Radio appeal to help gather funds for the starving people of Somalia," said John Michael. "That appeal raised a million pounds then, and I was glad to be able to help Mick Mulcahy and his friends pull it off."

Today he is still working for charities, where he and his son, Kyrl, provide the engineering for the 96FM Radiothon, which is now a very successful annual event, raising huge sums of money for Cork Hospitals.

John's book, which is dedicated to his mother, is a book about hope and adventure. It covers growing up in Buttevant, his teenage and early adult years, as well as his working life in Charleville and Mallow, and finally meeting his second wife in his beloved America, where real magic happened for him.

"Inside our house, an extraordinary drama was played out between a father too fond of the drink, an inspiring mother and dominant grandmother," recalled John. "Like many other families at the time, the six scrawny kids in our home were destined for a big fat nothing.

"But that was not how it turned out. All six of them amounted to a wonderful something," added John, quoting from his book.

John's name now goes forward, with the other Persons of the Month chosen this year, for possible selection as Cork Person of the Year at a Gala Awards lunch, to be attended by 250 invited guests representing all sections of Cork society, which will be held at the Rochestown Park Hotel on January 17, 2014.


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