THE amazing life story of one of the last World War 2 veterans living in Kerry was recalled with deep affection at his funeral in Ballybunion on Thursday.
Ballylongford native Dr Jim O'Carroll, who passed away at the age of 92 at his home in Ballybunion last week, was a British Commando during World War 2, a leading psychiatrist in his adopted home of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for over 20 years and, latterly, a much loved member of the Ballybunion community where he lived for over a decade.
"He was a lovely man," friend and St John's Arts Centre manger Joe Murphy told said. "Jim was an extremely interesting man, especially considering the life he led. He joined the British Army as a very young man and became a commando. He parachuted into Germany behind enemy lines and was captured, but managed to escape on a number of occasions.
"He was very nearly shot on one occasion when he was recaptured, but survived when a German soldier asked him to give him a good reason not to kill him. Jim responded by reciting a short German poem which, translated, amounted to something like: ' The man who was born in chains wishes to be free!'"
Dr O'Carroll witnessed the infamous bombing raid of Dresden while on the run in the vicinity of the city, among many of the other horrors of the conflict. On returning home he studied medicine in Trinity College and afterwards emigrated to Canada, working with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His medical career culminated in his own practice in Tulsa, Oklahoma where owned a ranch and lived for over 20 years.
Dr O'Carroll's wife Dr Maud Stavely predeceased him in 1993. The couple had six children; Marianne Cohn, Capt. J. Ormonde Staveley- O'Carroll, Marguerite Steinle (who also predeceased him), Richard O'Carroll of Tulsa, Kevin Staveley- O'Carroll, and Kathleen StaveleyO' Carroll Rieves.
Dr O'Carroll retired to Ballybunion alongside his wife Peggy - a childhood sweetheart prior to his role in World War 2 and with whom he was reunited years later. His funeral took place on Wednesday at St John's Church, Ballybunion.