The news of the death of John Caffrey was received with great sadness by the entire farming community, and particularly among his former colleagues here at the Irish Farmers Journal.
“Caff”, as he was known to one and all, was a larger-than-life character, with his walrus moustache, mischievous grin and eyes twinkling with devilment as he went about his work. His lightness of heart could never be mistaken for a careless attitude to his craft, for his dedication to his work was as apparent as his skill as a photographer.
His great ability was to put people at ease and win their trust, allowing him to capture their true nature as they went about their day on the land, down at the mart, or attending a show or farm walk.
John: ‘a proud Dub’
A proud Dub, he connected with country people, drawing them out to reveal themselves to the lens. Beginning his career in an era when print photographs were mostly black and white, he moved seamlessly into the digital age, adapting to new technology with ease.
There are literally thousands of family homes where a photo taken by John Caffrey occupies pride of place over a mantlepiece or in a hallway – a portrait of a loved one no longer with us, or perhaps a scene of work out on the farm that captured the natural beauty of the area.
John Caffrey’s working life started in London, where, as he put it himself, he “worked in the finance wing of London Transport”– he was a bus conductor.
However, he was to find his true home in the Irish Farmers Journal.
Speaking at John’s funeral service last Friday, his son Luke said that John considered that he had never worked a day in the Irish Farmers Journal, as he was doing something that he loved. He carried out his duties to an exceptionally high standard for 43 years.
John met Roisín Murphy at work, and together they forged a life, first in Templeogue, then relocating to the countryside at the Scalp in Enniskerry.
Family meant everything to John, he was a kind and devoted father to Jane, Jack and Luke. Jack and he worked side-by-side in the Irish Farmers Journal photography team for many years. To his five grandchildren, Rosie, Lulu, Eléna, John-Joe and Ted, he was “Gaga”, playful and adoring.
His lightness of heart could never be mistaken for a careless attitude to his craft, for his dedication to his work was as apparent as his skill as a photographer
He also forged close working and personal relationships with many of his colleagues, particularly Steve Treacy and John Jordan, who fostered his lifelong love of cricket.
That was just one of his many passions – he loved music of all types, nature, travel and built up an extensive collection of ticket machines from buses and trains. And he captured all he saw and experienced with his photographer’s eye.
Everybody at the Irish Farmers Journal extends their sympathy to Roisín, Jane, Jack, Luke and all John’s family and wide network of friends.
See a video selection of John Caffrey’s photographs here.