Meathman's Diary: Works of art from a force of nature
It's surely one of the great tragedies of life that people who are blessed with some great talent or other don't fulfil that talent. The world is not short of stories of footballers, musicians, writers and artists and others who had a rich talent in one way or another but who sadly went down the same route. Promise unfulfilled.
Seamus Smyth can certainly be counted among those who had a talent and royally succeeded in making the most it. Seamus, you see, is an artist through and through.
I have been out in his studio at his home in Dunmoe on the Navan, Slane road. I have seen his work. I'm no art expert but like most people I know a good picture when I see one; it's not all that difficult to detect originality and a genuine creative flourish in a piece.
Seamus is certainly an artist of note around these parts and Meath County Council have decided to recognise his achievements by holding an exhibition of his oil paintings as part of a celebration of 50 years as an artist. The exhibition will be held in the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan on Friday 1st October, 7.30 and will continue until Thursday 15th October. His first ever art exhibition of oil paintings was staged in the Foresters' Hall, Navan in 1975. He has held many more since then.
Some years ago I went out to visit Seamus to talk about his life and times - and he has experienced some extraordinary things in life. He grew up in St Patrick's Terrace, Navan and while he worked at various jobs (in Spicers bakery and the pub business) art was always a central part of his life. Much of what he learned he thought himself. He married Nina and they have raised their fine family in Dunmoe.
Many episodes of his life were recorded in a memoir he wrote some years ago - 'Recollections of My Life in Navan.' He recounted, for instance, how the great Christy Ring once called to St Patrick's Terrace to visit a relative who lived there. There were other extraordinary chapters. Seamus travelled to Croke Park in a car once owned by Adolf Hitler. The car was acquired by the Burke family in Stackallen.
Throughout his life he kept working away at the drawing and painting, developing his talent; honing his own distinctive style. During lean times, Seamus recalled how he supplemented his income through painting.
Yet there were dark days too. Seamus suffered a stroke in 2010. It meant he couldn't paint any longer with his right hand. How did he respond to that devastating blow? He learned to paint with his left.
Such resilience and determination to express himself has made Seamus an inspiration for others - and Meath County Council are now recognising that fact. He is certainly someone who fulfilled his talent - and hopefully there will be many more creations from him in the years ahead.