Hilary McCarthy was born in Dublin, attending University College Dublin in the early 1980s attaining a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and later studied Marketing at Portobello College. After working in Radio for three years, she managed a Family Entertainment Centre for seven years and then set up a Marketing Consultancy Agency. She moved to West Cork with her husband and youngest son in 2007.
Upon arriving in Schull Hilary was invited to join the founding committee, taking responsibility for the marketing of the Festival. In 2016 she filled the role of Chairperson and is currently Festival Director, Communications.