Patrick Smyth: Remarkable Co Down man leaves lasting legacy for young family
PATRICK Smyth was gifted with a natural charm and easy going manner that made everyone who met him feel they were his friend.
Indeed, to Patrick, “strangers were only friends he hadn’t yet met”.
The truth was Patrick was a man at ease with himself and his surroundings. Born in February 1970 to John and Kathleen Smyth, he lived all his life in the village of Leitrim, Co Down, with his affection for his “home place” undimmed until his untimely passing on December 18 2018.
Patrick’s early years were spent at Legananny PS and St Malachy’s High School, Castlewellan, where he formed friendships that would last his lifetime.
While he would have loved nothing more than to have worked on the family farm, he was encouraged by his father to take up an apprenticeship and from then, his talents shone as a joiner.
With no desire to play sport in his teenage years, Patrick joined the emerging Leitrim Fontenoys Marching Band (in the words of his friend Martin O’Hare “mainly for the talent”) and together as drummers they toured the country.
The year 1990 was a watershed - it was then that he met his wife and soulmate, Bridie. They finally married in May 1998 and for the first year, Patrick put his talents to work in building their family home on the site of the old Leitrim Post Office, formerly owned by his grandfather.
Early married life was full and exciting, with travel to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. The couple also became involved with local charity Romanian Appeal Helpline and Patrick was again able to use his practical skills as they worked in orphanages in Romania.
With the arrival of their first daughter Niamh in 2004, followed by Aoife in 2007 and Kyla in 2010, the family unit was complete.
Having purchased a chimney sweeping business from his brother-in-law, Patrick was now his own boss and able to devote more time to his daughters and his other passion, rare breed farming and showing.
During the last decade, he built himself a considerable reputation with his Dexter cattle herd, Kerryhill sheep and Leghorn hens.
With the business expanding and opportunities abounding, Bridie and Patrick set forth on their most ambitious plan to date: a glamping site, on land adjoining their home.
Despite numerous setbacks, and with typical attention to detail, work began in the summer of 2017. In early 2018, however, just as the cabins were being built, Patrick received the devastating diagnosis of incurable neuroendocrine cancer.
Stoic and determined, he bravely decided to receive the treatments that would give him more time. He repeatedly affirmed that the project, which would be his legacy for his family’s security, had to be completed.
Throughout the summer of 2018 and beyond, Patrick and his friends and family battled on. Today 'Pine Tree Hollow Glamping' stands as a lasting memorial to this remarkable man.
Patrick’s funeral on December 21 was attended by hundreds from near and far, a fitting tribute to a man whose life’s journey touched the lives of so many different people from all walks of life.
His 11-year-old daughter Aoife sang solo, determined like all his daughters and proof that “ the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.
Patrick is interred in Leitrim cemetery, less than a stone's throw from the home he built and where he can keep a watchful eye on his legacy.
A true son of Leitrim, quiet and considerate, kind and loving, he is survived by his wife, daughters, his mother Kathleen, brother Sean and sisters Catherine, Monica and Clare.