Dave O’Shea opened Chimera Gallery in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, last year principally to feed his own passion for art, which was ignited when – as a young army cadet – he was brought to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia, with his troop in 1986.
“I wandered into one of the vast rooms with epic paintings adorning the walls. That was the spark. During the following years I served overseas eight times and I tried to see as many art galleries, shows and exhibitions as possible, all in secret. Not that I was ashamed; I just thought no one would share my interest.”
After retiring from the Defence Forces, O’Shea found himself, almost by accident, opening an art gallery in a garden centre in Delvin, Co Westmeath, showing works by Conor Walton, Pauline Bewick and Graham Knuttel. Last year he rented a space in the centre of Mullingar and set up Chimera. His aim was to nurture artists, but he ended up selling a surprising amount of work. He has now moved to more prestigious premises over Days Bazaar, a bookshop that was frequented by James Joyce. And just to prove that the art world still has chutzpah, he got Jason Cooper – drummer with The Cure – to open the new gallery.