People always seem to want to know what it is your father does. As a child I loved being asked because my father was something different, something extraordinary, something original. "My Dad's an artist", I would say proudly. "So what kind of an artist?" they would continue. That always floored me. What kind of an artist? "Well, he paints and he writes music, oh and he makes lovely enamels" I would answer, knowing that it would never really explain what my father, the artist was and is.

I still struggle to when people ask me about his paintings. "I suppose", I reply, "that you could say they are modern". "Oh", people would say blankly. You can see I don't really have a future as an art critic, but really what do I know? He's "just" Dad to me, Dad who could always banish nightmares in the middle of the night, Dad who hums quietly to himself as he moves around the house, Dad who always greets me with a smile. But I know that Dad is different, he is an artist. To me they are people who create something out of nothing, a sort of wonderful alchemy. And I know he does that. I know too, from people's reactions that artists are different people, complex individuals. They are supposed to be intense, intellectual, off-the-wall, and tempermental. People speak about the creative process in hushed tones, "No, don't disturb him, we don't want to intrude.. you know he is painting" they would whisper. There is always a sense of mystery around the idea of Dad working.

Radio One on in the background, mug of hot coffee to the side, paper everywhere, unfinished paintings leaning up against each other, the smell of paint, the feeling of quiet and Dad hunched up, paintbrush in hand, concentrating. As a child I sat there watching him, fiddling myself with paints, loving being involved. I'm drawn to Dad's studio still, fascinated, watching him work. And then the shows, the build-up of tension, the piling up of paintings around the house, the excitement of the night, the celebrity speaker, people all glammed up, the counting of red dots on the walls, the relief of a few pints afterwards and then back to work. I never really questioned what it all meant, it was all just part of our lives.

Dad and his paintings, music and enamels were part of our daily routine; we were surrounded by the colour; light and rhythm not only of the Burren, but of faraway places like Chile and Cuba. To us it was simple, Dad had to paint, it was necessary to him as everything else out there. He was and still is intensely passionate about his art, disciplined in going to work everyday no matter what and completely perplexed by people who can't understand what it is he does! At exhibitions, watching our father's creativity on bare white walls for all to see, it was such an intimate thing for all of us to share, we would hold our breath hoping that others would see what we saw in the light, colour, vibrancy and contrasts of Dad's experiences and imagination. And in the end, they always did. So now when people ask, I answer, "My Dad's an artist" and point to the paintings, they always speak volumes I have no words for.

Ciara McGrath

Free