'Joining Macra saved me after the deaths of parents'

2019 Macra Mr Personality John Martin Carroll of Kerry Macra (centre) with runners up, Conor Ryan (North Tipperary Macra) and Ciaran O Donnell (Roscommon Macra) at the recent competition in the Springhill Court, Kilkenny.
2019 Macra Mr Personality John Martin Carroll of Kerry Macra (centre) with runners up, Conor Ryan (North Tipperary Macra) and Ciaran O Donnell (Roscommon Macra) at the recent competition in the Springhill Court, Kilkenny.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

A brain tumour diagnosis and the death of his two parents before he was 30 meant that newly crowned Macra Mr Personality John Martin Carroll has had to show plenty of courage over the years.

"In 2012 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. I got through that and my dad Paddy collapsed in our kitchen and died of a stroke," says John who runs his own graphic design business in Causeway, Co Kerry.

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"My mother was then diagnosed with breast cancer and later bone marrow cancer. I nursed her until she died in 2016."

John tells the Farming Independent that the time after his mother, Mary, died was a period of darkness in his life.

"When I was looking after my mother I used to have to paint on a happy smile. I've no regrets for looking after her as she was my mother and I loved her but it was very hard," says the 32-year-old.

"When she died though it felt as if I was in a room that had no windows, everything was black.

"I was so down and lonely and would beat myself up over various things."

Three years ago, two of John's close friends asked would he be interested in coming to a Macra quiz in Killarney. John says this was a notion he initially wasn't on board with as he thought Macra was for "old men".

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"I'd no interest in going. I thought Macra was for older men and farmers. I went to the quiz though and enjoyed it and started going to other events and eventually signed up," says John.

At the time of joining Causeway Macra John admits he was an "emotional wreck" after the death of his mother. But joining up, he says, saved him.

"Macra gave me a second chance and a new focus. I was so angry before it and so alone. I now go to all sorts of events and took part in the recent Capers competition even though I couldn't sing or dance."

John is now chairman of Causeway Macra and Kerry Macra development officer.

"Macra isn't just for farmers, I've realised that now. I've so many friends and get three or more phone calls a day - all Macra related."

While John's business is in the early days he says he enjoys looking after his Yorkshire Terrier dog Penny and has gotten great support from his brother Michael who lives nearby.

John's sights are set toward organising the Kingdom County Fair which will take place in Tralee Racecourse on this Sunday.

The fair is in its 71st year and is one of the country's leading county fairs.

The fair is supporting the Kerry Cancer Support Group and The Kerry Cork Health Link Bus this year.

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