Born January 20, 1950. Died August 3, 2007 suddenly at home at Darlinghurst.


Fond son of Norah Elizabeth (Scullion) and the late Francis John McCarthy, brother of Daniel and Thomas and uncle to their children. He was a former administrator at the School of Asian Studies, University of Sydney. He had been a seminarian in his youth but decided not to pursue the priesthood and he went home to Tasmania. He maintained strong links with the Church and in 2002 was invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Recently he had been promoted to Knight Commander.


In 2003 he received a small grant from the National Library of Ireland to produce a book on the coats of arms of the bishops of Ireland. The beginnings of this were presented as a paper at the XXVIIth International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences convened at St. Andrews, Scotland in 2006. The completed work is with the Chief Herald of Ireland for review. He was hoping for its completion and eventual publication book at the time of his death.


From an early interest in heraldry encouraged by Archbishop Bruno Heim during his appointment to the Court of St James’, Michael established Thylacine Press (named after extinct carnivorous marsupial from his native Tasmania) in 1998 to publish works on ecclesiastical heraldry, which would be given in the historical context in which particular Coats-of-Arms were and are used. At his death he was the author, primary illustrator and publisher of no less than seven books on heraldry. They are:

  • An Armorial of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Australia, 1998
  • Heraldica Collegii Cardinalium, (Vol II), 2000 
  • Armoria Sedium, 2001
  • Heraldica Collegii Cardinalium, (Vol I), 2001
  • A Manual of Ecclesiastical Heraldry, 2005
  • Dragonkind, 2007
  • Armoria Pontificalium, 2007

In addition, in 2001 and again in 2005 he published supplements to the Heraldica Collegii Cardinalium and a CD Rom updated version of the Armorial of the Australian Catholic Hierarchy was produced in 2005.


A fine artist and a keen scholar Michael's unique style was befriended, encouraged and heavily influenced by the late great Archbishop Bruno Heim as well as being influenced by the late Dom Anselm Baker, OCSO. Michael could often be seen to be "difficult" by those who didn't know him well. He had very strong opinions and didn't suffer fools gladly. However, after a disagreement it was often he who was the first to offer a conciliatory word. Horribly worried about the decaying state of heraldry in the Catholic Church Michael undertook to effect a revival of sorts building on the foundation laid by Heim. For those who will miss his work and his contributions to the world of ecclesiastical heraldry his efforts were certainly not in vain and he was somewhat successful in achieving his goals. It is a shame that his untimely death comes just as he was beginning to receive the recognition he so richly deserved as one of the world's leading scholars of heraldry as well as one of its finest heraldic artists. In his Manual of Ecclesiastical Heraldry he left a work of great practical utility to experts as well as to many amateurs.


Michael was a devout man with a dry but very quick sense of humor. He lived modestly in Darlinghurst and ran his pet project, Thylacine Press, out of his residence. His tiny cramped library was a treasure trove of heraldica! In recent years he began to look forward to a hoped-for return to his native Tasmania. He will be sorely missed by those who knew him personally and those who knew only his magnificent and prolific work.


In recent times Michael had been putting his art work into bound volumes for its protection and with a view to its ultimate bequest to the Vatican Library to which he left “all my library of heraldic books, manuscripts, illustrations, artwork and related material and all copyrights belonging to me whether in published or unpublished works.” He was a member of Heraldry Australia as well as the Society of Heraldic Artists.


The Mass of Christian Burial for Mr MICHAEL FRANCIS McCARTHY will be offered in St. Canice’s Church, Roslyn Street, Elizabeth Bay, on Tuesday (August 14, 2007), commencing at 10 a.m.


May He Rest In Peace.


Obituary by Fr. Guy W. Selvester