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Eimear NiBhraonain: Rift in legend's family has left a clannish county shaken

KILKENNY people are best known for being clannish so it's no surprise that the rift in hurling legend DJ Carey's family has left his county shaken.

He is arguably the greatest hurler of all time but just as his star began to fade, DJ Carey's private life is back under the spotlight.

The sportsman's acrimonious split from his wife, Christine, was on the front-page of a Sunday newspaper on the day of the 2003 All-Ireland final.

The pair had two children, Mike and Sean, before they parted company after seven years of marriage.

Since then, his relationship with 'Dragons' Den' star and entrepreneur Sarah Newman, has been well documented.

In a bold move, he posed for the cameras with Sarah, his two sons, and her two children from a previous relationship, Patrick and Grace, in July 2004. They were called the modern-day version of the Brady bunch.

Yesterday, the focus was not on DJ's love life but instead it shifted to his business and the devastating impact a family fallout has had on a rural community.

The beautiful green countryside around his family home in Gowran, Co Kilkenny, where his parents, John and Maura Carey live, masks a bitter dispute.

There is sympathy for DJ Carey everywhere but there is also disappointment that his family has been torn apart in a place where blood has always been thicker than water.

Yesterday, the home where DJ Carey once lived with his wife of seven years and their two boys looked abandoned.

The blinds were drawn and his parents' St Bernard dog, who roamed freely around the large garden, looked like the only visitor that's been to DJ's former home in a while. The two-storey house is directly opposite Maura and John's home on a small country laneway behind Gowran Park.

His dad, John, said he did not want to comment on DJ's cleaning business -- or on his family's difficulties. But the pain was etched on the mild-mannered Mr Carey's face. He also said his daughter, Catriona, would not be making comment.

The family row between DJ Carey and his sister, Catriona, who was once his right-hand woman in business runs deep. It has divided a family of seven children, and extended relations, who have been forced into taking sides.

However, there is no suggestion of any connection between the rift and the "unauthorised transactions" discovered by the auditors of the cleaning company in which they were both involved.

Many say Catriona was extremely hardworking, but they acknowledge that DJ Carey had his "own reasons" for cutting ties with his sister.

However, in a small church in the townsland of Clara, the Carey family yesterday came together to mourn the passing of Bernie McGarry after a year-long battle with cancer. The Careys and the McGarrys are related. DJ Carey's cousin, James McGarry, and other hurlers attended yesterday's funeral.

Mr McGarry was left devastated after his wife of six months, Vanessa, was killed in a car crash in 2007.

A family friend who attended yesterday's funeral described it as "very sad".

"There is a lot of pain in the Carey family. They are deeply upset by the rift between DJ and his sister.

"DJ is gone out of Gowran a good few years. There was a very big family fall-out. He comes back now and then but he's not permanently living here any more."

Irish Independent