16 November 2023 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The peaceful passing at Cavan General Hospital on Saturday November 4 last, in the loving presence of his family, of Mr Tommy Smyth, 16 Manor Wood, Monaghan Town occasioned deep sadness in his home town and wider North Monaghan area. Aged 73, Tommy was the eldest son of a family that has played a significant role in the business life of Monaghan Town for two generations, guiding the fortunes of the Northern Standard newspaper and its former sister company R & S Printers Limited.

As a printer and later a senior management figure, Tommy was pivotal to the success of the companies and was a widely respected figure in the local business community with a reputation for diligence, integrity and hard work. He had left school early to join his father, the late Paddy Smyth, in R & S Printers Limited. He found a natural home for his talents in the printing sphere and soon became an integral part of the family business as it expanded into ownership of the Northern Standard newspaper and developed its commercial printing activities into a thriving operation during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Tommy’s natural aptitude for the printing craft and his eagerness to learn and understand all aspects of the business operation stood him in good stead when he and other senior members of the family had to negotiate the painful transition process which followed upon the passing of their father. Tommy assumed a senior management role with particular responsibility for the business’s commercial printing arm and ensured that the ship of the family firm not only held a steady course but progressively navigated a period of unprecedented change in printing technology and newspaper production processes.

As a boss and manager he led by example. He had a prodigious appetite for hard work and often exemplified the “first in every morning, last out every evening” commitment that is a characteristic of the Monaghan business ethic. His clarity of vision on how he wanted the business to operate and his down-to-earth approach to worker relations earned him the loyalty and respect of all his employees. He would reprove if necessary but his voice most often struck a tone of encouragement for those who worked alongside him. His depth of experience bequeathed him a cool head and a soundness of judgement and in the often frenetic atmosphere created by newspaper and printing job deadlines his was always the calmest disposition on the factory floor.

Tommy had a keen eye for talent and played a significant role in ensuring that the ability and professionalism of those inhabiting the printing, compositing, setting, and office and administrative departments of the business were the envy of the regional industry. Like his father before him, he built a strong relationship with the clientele of R & S Printers and went to great lengths to ensure that work commissioned was delivered on time and to the highest possible standard. This was reciprocated by a high level of customer loyalty in an increasingly competitive trading environment, and by widespread respect and esteem among his peers in the industry. But it was not all work and no play for Tommy.

Away from the printing works he was an enthusiastic outdoors man with a passion for the pursuits of fishing and hunting and he was active in a number of gun clubs and angling organisations. In his youth Tommy earned a deserved reputation as a soccer player of some skill, and was a distinguished member of the Monaghan Hibs side and of other local teams. He played a strong game of darts and had a love of the sport of rallying that allowed him to indulge his aptitude for the mechanical.

He was rarely happier than when working on the engine of a car. In his younger days he was an ardent follower of the showband scene, possessed of a particular devotion to the celebrated Ventures showband that saw him spend many teenage weekends as part of their loyal retinue. The gentle side of his nature found expression in a love for animals. The many gun dogs that accompanied him on his countryside pursuits were not just working dogs to him but beloved pets who were treated with regal care.

As a teenager he would rear calves for sale in the pre-Christmas markets as a means of generating some valuable spending money for the festive season. The role that defined him best was that of family man. He was a devoted husband to wife Nuala and a loving and beloved father of children Gary, Alan and Gemma; a benign grandfather to Tommy, Georgia, Finley, Aaron, Oran and Rosa; a cherished brother to Martin, Maurice, Michael, Cathal and Patrick, and to Anne, Maeve, Concepta, Roisin and Colette.

Tommy was predeceased by his parents Paddy and Kathleen, and by sisters Bernie, Jean and Helen. He also leaves to mourn him a host of friends and business acquaintances, a great many of whom called to the family home to tender their sympathies and bolstered the attendance at Tommy’s removal on Tuesday November 7 for Funeral Mass at St Macartan’s Cathedral, the cortege making a poignant pause in The Diamond near the building where he had spent the entirety of his working life.

The Funeral Mass was offered by Canon Paddy McGinn and Tommy’s children and grandchildren played prominent parts in the liturgy. The gifts brought to the altar reflected his abiding love for the sport of rallying and the pursuits of the great outdoors. Former work colleagues formed a guard of honour as Tommy made his final journey to St Joseph’s New Cemetery, Latlurcan where he was laid to rest close to his parents and sisters. Tommy’s Months Mind Mass will take place on 2nd of December at 6.00pm in St. Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan.

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