An Irish farmer drowned his three-year-old daughter before killing himself over fears his American wife would bring the child to live in the United States. Martin McCarthy (50), a farmer, had been treated for depression and a heart condition and was deeply upset as his marriage to Rebecca (26), from California was breaking down.
His wife arrived home to their isolated farmhouse in Ballydehob, West Cork to find a suicide note and alerted police. The note was described as long and rambling.
A huge search operation was soon underway both of the isolated farm and the nearby ocean. Sadly, the bodies of little Clarissa and her dad were discovered in shallow water a few hundred yards from the family farm.
Rebecca witnessed the findings of the bodies and the desperate attempt first to resuscitate the little girl and then the father.
Rebecca McCarthy came originally from Los Angeles and found work as a nanny in Ireland and wanted to move back home to California. Her family were on their way from LA last night to comfort her.
The couple married seven years ago but according to the Irish Sun their relationship was falling apart. “Rebecca was planning to move home to America – they had effectively separated. Martin was very upset and I suppose it all came to a head last night.”
“It is a horrific tragedy – Clarissa was the apple of Martin’s eye,” said a local source.
A post-mortem conducted last night confirmed that the doting dad drowned himself and his daughter over fears that his wife was planning to leave him.
A close friend, Leslie Swanton, said: “I am just in total shock. I knew Martin for 30 odd years.
“He was a very loving father and his daughter was his world. He was completely devoted to her.”
He had last met him on Monday evening: “He was his usual self. I can’t imagine what was going through his head. I just don’t know what happened.”
According to the Mirror, Rebecca McCarthy raised the alarm after she came home to an empty house and found the note.
Police and coastguard rushed to the scene and commenced a sea and ground search in total darkness.
The coast guard found little Clarissa first and then continued searching the dark water off the beach.
Emergency services tried for more than an hour to revive the little girl but their brave efforts could not bring her back.
At approximately 2.30 am the body of her father Martin was found in shallow water and he too was pulled from the water.
He was pronounced dead by a doctor who was at the scene helping rescuers.
Local sources told the paper that Rebecca, 26, was originally from California and met Martin when she came on vacation to West Cork. She was working as an au-pair for a local vet.
They were married seven years ago.
One local man said: “Martin worked seven days a week. He owned a large farm and also rented a number of acres around the area.
“He never stopped working and would have been up and down the country.” He was also heavily involved in the local Fine Gael party and had canvassed for politicians in General Elections and local County Council elections.
Shortly before Christmas McCarthy suffered heart problems and was hospitalized.
Friends say that his mood had deteriorated since then and that he had been prescribed heavy medication.
One local woman, Catherine Norman, spoke of her shock at the horrific events.
“No can say what happened – no one can judge.”
“They were a lovely family and he was a hard working farmer and father,” she said
Another local said: “He was a hard working, industrious man who loved his family. No one in the community saw this coming. We are all shocked.”
Former West Cork TD Paddy Sheehan, who was a personal friend of the farmer, told the Sun Newspaper the two had met when Rebecca had come on a work experience course to his farm.
“Martin turned around and saw her in the door of the parlour and it was love at first sight. He told me all that.” However, another of Martin’s close friends told the paper: “I saw him last Monday and he definitely was not himself. He was out of sorts and appeared to be a bit jittery and excited. I really don’t think it was his health he was worried about.
“He told me he was having some marriage difficulties but never went into the details.
“He was married about five years and met Rebecca when she came over from the States. There was a considerable age gap, but they fell deeply in love and got married.
“Martin said having little Clarissa was the best thing that happened to him. He was a confirmed bachelor farmer and he never expected to have a child.
“He was a great father. He adored that little girl, she was the apple of his eye. They were inseparable.
“You would see the two of them driving through the town and in the countryside. She was a beautiful little blonde, full of chat and life. I never would have thought something like this would happen because Martin was such a gentle person.”