Liam was born in Southwark, London to Irish parents who had emigrated from Ballygarvan, County Cork. His father Eoghan MacCarthy was nicknamed Capall, Irish for 'horse' because of his great strength. Liam grew up in a close knit Irish community; he played hurling on Clapham Common and Irish was the first language in the family home. After leaving school he worked as a blacksmith's hammerman and as a railwayman.
Marriage and business life
In 1875, at age 22, he married Alice Padbury in St George's Cathedral, Southwark. The couple had four sons. Her family owned a fancy box factory and Liam joined the family business but a few years later he struck out on his own setting up a fancy woman's box factory in the family home. After some years he set up a factory in Peckham which he called St. Brigid's works.
Political and GAA life
Liam became a leader in London's Irish community and was elected a councilor for Peckham's north ward. He was also elected chairman of London GAA county board, a position he held for 10 years. Michael Collins and Sam Maguire were also members of the London county board. Despite his advanced years he joined the London branch of the Irish Volunteers along with his sons; he also was allegedly a member of the IRB. In 1915, Britain introduced conscription; a crisis meeting of the London branch of the Irish volunteers was held at his home in east Dulwich to discuss conscription. As a councilor Liam could not publicly advise men to avoid conscription but in response to question from Michael Collins he said, "If you come from Clonakilty it is obvious where you must go" - in other words advising them to return to Ireland where conscription was not in force.
Liam MacCarthy Cup
In conjunction with two of his sons, Liam commissioned the manufacture of a trophy based on an ancient Irish drinking cup. This cup was offered to the GAA central council in Croke Park and was gratefully accepted. It is awarded annually and in perpetuity to the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. A committee set up to honour his colleague, Sam Maguire, presented a similar Cup for the winners of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship in 1928, to commemorate his death the previous year. The first winners of the Liam MacCarthy cup were Limerick in 1921.
The GAA club grounds in Ballygarvan are named after him.
- Ballygarvan GAA. "The Story of Liam MacCarthy".
- Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). "Original Liam MacCarthy Cup".
- Bramhill, Nick (March 26, 2016). "Bid to honour hurling's Liam MacCarthy, the 'forgotten man of 1916'". Irish Examiner.