Tributes have been paid to local artist John O’Connor, Seatown Place, who died suddenly on Wednesday August 17th.
Born in 1957, John grew up in Blackrock, Co Dublin, and studied art at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, gradulating in 1980.
A talented painter, he was awarded the Sir Alfred Beit award for painting 1980 and first prize in student section Claremorris Open 1980.
He took up a post as art teacher in O’Fiaich College in 1983 and is remembered as a teacher who encouraged students, inspiring many to go on to pursue their own careers as artists.
He was very involved in the local arts community, first as part of a group of teachers who exhibited under the banner ‘Those who can do’ and then as member of Bridge Street Studios from 2004 till 2015. More recently he was a member of Creative Spark Print Studios and the North Louth Artists.
In his artist’s statement for his most recent exhibition in June, he quoted the Irish writer Michael McLaverty: "Be artists of the normal, it is the normal that survives, and it comes from exploring the resources of your own people and environment - no matter how small the latter is, if it is deeply pondered the resultant work will overleap its boundaries. “
This was certainly true of John. Much of his work was inspired by the summer holidays he had spent as a child with his maternal grandparents in Ummeryroe, Co Sligo. Indeed, his first solo exhibition in The Basement Gallery was titled Ummeryore.
He went on to have two further solo exhibitions in the Hamilton Gallery Sligo and at this year’s Boyne Music Festival.
He also took part in numerous group shows in The Basement Gallery, the Louth County Museum, Highlanes Gallery and the Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Gormley’s Fine Art, Iontas, Castleblayney, and Blackbird Gallery. Kilkenny, among others, and had work exhibited at the RHA Annual Exhibition.
John was also a keen sportsman. He was a member of Dundalk Tennis Club and is remembered as a skillful player. He also enjoyed playing golf and swimming. In his earlier years, he had ran a number of marathons and was often seen cycling around town or out to Blackrock. His passion for sport saw him travelling to events such as the Wimbledon tennis championships and to the Irish Open.
The North Louth Artists, with whom he had exhibited for several years, remembered him as ‘a true gentleman’ and local artists have also paid tribute to him, describing him as a talented artist and gentleman who had encouraged others.
Dundalk Tennis Badminton and Squash Club said “John has been a very active member of our Club for many years with great friendships forged in that time.”
Most of all he is remembered as a true gentleman who will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
John had been the devoted husband and carer for the late Clodagh, who died in February 2021 and the proud father of Nicholas and Ellen. He is also survived by his sister Maura and brother Michael, mother-in-law May Toal, his children’s partners Cristina and Daniel, brothers-in-laws, sister-in-law, nephews, nieces, relatives and many friends.
Reposing at McGeough’s Funeral Home from 2pm until 5pm on Saturday. Removal on Sunday afternoon arriving for Mass at 2pm in St. Fursey's Church, Haggardstown. Burial afterwards in adjoining cemetery.