Mary Maddock of the MindFreedom International board of directors just contacted us with the sad news: After a long motor neurone illness, mad pride leader, poet and psychiatric survivor John McCarthy of Cork, Ireland died this morning at 61. Whether you knew him personally or not, John is a hero for our “mad movement.” Below are some Mad Pride memories of John. [Updated 14 July 2012]

Above: Sample of Mad Pride Ireland poster, the events sometimes drew thousands. Below: John McCarthy at UN. (Photo credit: Tom Olin.)



We Will Carry on Your Mad Pride, John McCarthy!

by David W. Oaks


John McCarthy in UNJohn, you’ve gone and done it now, my friend. 

Now you’ve gone and done it.

You, the champion of the normality of madness, you are now exploring what is perhaps most normal about all of us who are alive: 

We die. 

John was a poet, a friend, a psychiatric survivor, an activist, and – as he called himself – a sales person for the idea of Mad Pride. He felt that all we humans had madness, that madness was normal, and that we ought to be proud. 

The movement for deep change in the mental health system has often had a problem reaching out to the public. 

John found a solution: 

Celebration. Creativity. Music. Festivity. Costumes. Family-friendly free events. Sometimes his events would reach thousands. 

John, one way to remember you is to carry on, and to let others know about your work. 

Whether or not people knew you, they can celebrate what you have done. I hope those who knew and loved you will share their memories. 

My thoughts and prayers to John’s family. John is survived by his wife Liz, his children David and Jill, and grandchildren.

Here are just a few YouTube videos of John McCarthy and Mad Pride Ireland. 


John McCarthy & Mad Pride Ireland Remembered


MadPride FineCut1


John McCarthy of Mad Pride Ireland on Lunchtime


Mad Pride Tullamore 2011


Mad Pride Ballydehob  2011


Mad Pride Cork 2009


John McCarthy & Mad Pride Ireland 2008


Normality of Madness (Ballad tribute for John – RIP – by Terry Lingwood)


Interview with John on MindFreedom’s Live Free Mad Pride Radio, download the MP3 here:


Interview with John on Will Hall’s Madness Radio:


John McCarthy beautiful essay on bereavement:


John on his work in United Nations when he represented MindFreedom International in 2006: 


John comparing a diagnosis of a serious physical illness with a psychiatric label, in a 2009 essay in Cork Independent:


Critical Voices Network has a tribute to John here, including links to audio interviews, and a transcript you can download [updated item July 2012]


More & related info


More about Mad Pride Ireland, click here:


More about Mad Pride campaigns click here:


More about Boycott Normal click here:


INITIAL NEWS ARTICLES about John’s death:

RTE News Ireland


Cork Independent, Ireland


Cork Independent reports that “tributes pour in”:


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