The Growth of Privacy; Day 8 –
A Conversation on the Bandon River

FEBRUARY 6, 2020

Jack Corkery was my grandfather on my mother’s side.  He was from Macroom but had become a national school (primary) teacher, later principal, and had moved about the country as a result, ending up in Cork.

By the time I came along, he and granny, who had also been a primary principal teacher, had retired to a little bungalow in the country on the north side of the city.

While my father’s family were all around me growing up, Granny and Grandad Corkery were that bit further away.  And that meant them coming to visit was a much bigger deal, and more importantly on school holidays, I got to go and stay with them. 

There really is no substitute for living with someone.

My Grandad Corkery was an old-school pedagogue, in the best possible sense of that word.  He loved knowledge and loved imparting it.  He loved language, the Irish language in particular; and it has been a source of great shame to me in my adult life that I did not embrace his love of the Irish language when I was a child, something I have been working to remedy in more recent years, with great difficulty now it must be said.

My time spent with my grandparents, but with Grandad Corkery in particular, was just awash in a warm loving conversation.  That is how I remember it best.  He was always telling me things and developing my knowledge, thinking and ideas, but he never lectured me, we always worked by conversation.  I loved his company more than anything.  And I think he felt the same.

As a result of the fact that he lived a little further away from us than other family members, grandad and I spent a lot of time in the car together.  Some of the best conversations are had travelling.  There is a thing about sitting with someone quietly, not looking directly at one another, that enables a flow of interaction that does not occur as easily in other circumstances.

There is a stretch of the road along the Bandon river between the town of Bandon and Inishannon that is particularly beautiful.  The river valley rises high on one side and the road is flanked by mature deciduous trees, with the river meandering in the middle.

I recall one particular journey from Clonakilty to Cork with grandad where we were discussing the future, it must have been autumn, as I remember the colour of the leaves on the trees and the dappled light that produces. 

I was fiddling with the window in the back seat of the car.  It was before electric windows.  I had been putting it up and down to regulate air; I had been inclined to get nauseous in the back of the car on long journeys.

I guess it was the early eighties and I was obsessed with computers at the time.  I had decided I was going to be an electronic engineer and I recall announcing this to my grandfather and telling him straight out, that was it, there was no question; that was what my future would look like.

And we ended up in this long conversation about how people and things change and grow.  About, for example, how I had felt comfortable at one point of the journey but then needed to put the window down and then back up again and so on.

He never sought to dissuade me from anything that I wanted to do or was passionate about, but he taught me in his most gentle and loving way about not being fixated about the outcome, of what the future would look like.  We have no control over that.

My journey in my professional career since, has to a certain extent meandered like the Bandon river to where it is today.  Needless to say, I am not now an electronic engineer. But I do love working with technology in all its forms, and do so daily. 

Similarly in law, my path to the practice area of data protection and privacy which I focus on in my practice and my business today has been a winding one, with some unusual twists and turns, but which is strengthened and enriched by the diversity of experience along the way.

I think that is what my grandad was telling me on that journey along the banks of the Bandon river; at least that is how that memory inspires me today.


flor mccarthy

Flor McCarthy is one of Ireland’s leading lawyers and a recognised expert in marketing. He has particular expertise and hands-on practical experience in privacy, data protection and GDPR issues for marketers. He is certified by the Law Society of Ireland in Data Protection Practice and lectures lawyers on data protection practice and compliance. He is managing partner of a multi award-winning niche legal practice. He has been in private practice for over 20 years and has been elected by his peers to sit on the exclusive Council of the Law Society of Ireland, the governing body for Irish lawyers.

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