Thomas P. Carton 1922 - 2012


Vincent Carton's eulogy on behalf of the family.

Our father died last Monday night (02/01/2012) at 11:15pm. He was with our sister Marguerite and his beloved Kittie to whom he had been married for almost 62 years and with whom he had seven children, his 7 mice as he liked to call us.
He was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 but was adamant that this would not affect his very full life and it was only when he fell and broke his hip in Nov’10 and was confined to a wheelchair that he lost a lot of his independence. His mind was sharp to the end. He took up new challenges and continued a theme of self-education, something that had been such a part of his life.
He lived on the strand road in Sandymount in the 1920’s. The family moved to Clyde road in 1929 where he remained until he married. He was educated in the Francis Xavier School in Donnybrook, Belvedere College and Clongowes Wood College. He joined Carton Brothers, the family business in 1940 at 18 years of age.
In 1945 while on a tram he spotted a beautiful girl and was particularly attracted to her black plaits’. On a subsequent day he remained on the tram until this girl got off at the terminus in Donnybrook. So she was local. Fate lent a hand when at a house party very soon after that the girl with the plaits scolded him for sitting on a window ledge beside an open window. At that moment he was captivated by Kittie Martin and remained so for the rest of his life. Not one of us can remember a row or a harsh word spoken between them EVER!!
Dad was in the business for 69 years and was Managing Director from the 1960’s to the 1990’s and thereafter company chairman. During his time he oversaw massive changes as the company, the industry and the country underwent significant developments. The business in the 1940’s was made up of many smaller units and Dad during his long career became in turn; an auctioneer (Poultry & Game), a butter trader, a bondsman for wines & spirits, a tea taster, a printer and of course, an expert in all matters poultry.
From the 1960’s He refocused the business from Tea, Paper, Wine and wholesale groceries to poultry. As times changed he moved the company out of these periphery activities and invested heavily in the chicken business, which he also moved out of Dublin with a new hatchery in 1968 in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, a new processing plant in 1970 in Shercock, Co. Cavan, a new feed Milling business in 1976 also in Shercock and finally Swiss chalet franchise chicken restaurants in 1981 which were perhaps ahead of their time. There are over 600 people employed today due to his vision, foresight and entrepreneurial flair. He genuinely appreciated his staff – their dedication and actively sought their input. He enjoyed, in particular, his relationship with the farmers. Throughout his career, negotiations and dealings he was a man of his word and this integrity opened doors abroad. He was a constant traveller, always keen to investigate and learn how things were done in other countries and then apply them back home.
I once asked him that if he had not gone into the business what would he have done. He answered without hesitation, Architecture. Through all his new business ventures he had plenty of opportunities to play the role of architect.
Our father loved our mother, of that there is no doubt. He loved her cooking too. The side effect was that his weight was a constant challenge. Over the years he tried many, many diets but few were successful. Once he tried the ‘Mars Bar’ diet – based on the promise that a Mars bar was so nutritious – no other food was required. This, he felt, was exactly his sort of diet. Unfortunately, it failed. His version involved eating Mars bars as well as everything else.
Our father had quite a number of passions in life. First our mother, second us his seven mice, third the business. Then there was music, carpentry, wood turning, gadgets, painting, and the natural world. Wood turning developed into a passion when he took a lesser role in the running of the business. Dads’ eyes would light up when he heard a weather report of high winds. It meant that someone wanted a fallen tree removed. He would arrive the very next day with his chainsaw to cut the choice bits. He would then season the wood over the following 18 months. He would then craft the most magnificent pieces (Bowls and lamps etc). But the best bit was that on the underside of each piece he would burn the recipient’s name, the wood type and date he collected the wood.
His faith was also very important to him. I described him once as a religious man. He corrected me. He wished to be described as a man of ‘Strong faith’. He attended mass regularly and recited the Rosary daily. Pilgrimages were a central feature of his faith; he went to Loch Derg, Knock, Lourdes, Fatima and in later years Medjugorje. He looked forward to his annual 2 day retreat with the Jesuits. He thought deeply about his religion. He would regularly read theological articles and downloaded many podcasts by theologians to his iPod – which we discovered when trying to find music over the last few days of his life. He was a pioneer and wore his pin with pride. He had particular devotion to St.Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died in Auschwitz concentration camp, so much so that he named our feed business after him. He attended the canonisation of Maximillian Kolbe in Rome in 1987.
He loved observing nature, whether as a gardener, a bee keeper, or a sailor. He was always interested in harnessing nature and was way ahead of his time. He believed passionately in sustainable agriculture.

Music was also a life passion for Dad. He could play the organ and the Piano. He could knockout a mean “boogey woogey”. He adored playing and listening to classical music particularly Rachmananov and Tchaikovsky. We were one of the first families in Dublin to have a stereo system back in the 1950’s – he built it himself. Our parents would host musical evenings featuring Mahler and Sibelius, and of course, at full volume. At weekends our house was full of classical music. This does not mean he was a musical elitist. In time he came to appreciate the Beatles. ELO and even the Boomtown rats!!
He embraced technology all his life. Any new device would be thoroughly researched before purchase. Once it arrived the operational manual would be devoured, cover to cover and only then would the appliance be turned on. He took particular delight is seeing something run to its optimum. He had a great ear and the ability to ‘listen’ to machinery – he would intuitively know when something was not right. Dad was a techie – computers were just gadgets after all and he was fascinated by them. Back in the 1970’s he had the first portable PC – an Olivetti machine that weighed a tonne and had a fraction of a PC’s power today. He taught himself various programming languages and embraced computers in the windows era. The family gave him an iPad for this last Christmas and he was thrilled to go on u-tube and download David Attenborough’s ‘a wonderful world’.
When Dad became less mobile he became an avid Skyper to keep in contact with his grandchildren. He kept in touch with them in Sydney, Tunsberg in Norway, Toulouse, Lusaka, Paris, London, Melbourne and Atlanta. He learned to divide his screen in 4 and talk to up to 3 people at the one time. He really enjoyed keeping in touch with the business by skyping the management team in Shercock.
Recently, a grand-child set him up with a Facebook page, with his grandchildren as friends. There was huge excitement in my house when it was discovered that he, aged 89, had changed his status from single to married.
Dad loved gadgets as I have said and this fascination with all things technological went in to overdrive when he discovered Sky shopping - at the tender age of 86. He really took to it like a duck to water – when he saw the latest gadget for cutting, cleaning, cooking, etc he would go on-line and place his order and get a delivery date. His sense of anticipation grew as the delivery date approached. The house is full of devices from robots to rain water gatherers, from fancy garden tools to hand held vacuum cleaners. Sky shopping is certainly going to miss our dad.
Dad was a quiet and private man who was interested in everything. He was a man of integrity and courage, courage to do what was right. He loved his Kitty and his family and has gone to god in the certain knowledge of the fulfilment of the promises of Jesus Christ.
He used to joke that Tom & kitty cat had produced 7 mice.
Also his favourite saying was “stand back and let the hare see the dog” meaning at first take a broad perspective and choose your options once you have sized up what you are dealing with and then go for it with all that you’ve got !!.
Well Dad from your 7 mice. We will “stand back and let the hare see the dog……”

Good bye Dad

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