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Portrait of an artist

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LIVING HIS BEST LIFE  Maitiú Quinn is pictured at his home outside Knappagh, Westport. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Maitiú Quinn is making the most of every day

Feature
Mike Finnerty

IT’S mid-morning in Knappagh, outside Westport, and Maitiú Quinn’s sun-room, which is decorated with some of his striking paintings, is illuminated by the autumn sunshine.
Maitiú is holding court, telling The Mayo News about how his love for art, acting, education and his family and friends have brought him so much happiness.
His parents, Mick and Róisín, and his great friend, Nuala Mullins, are there too.
And Maitiu’s face lights up when he talks about his sister, Annie, and brother, Josh.
“I’m an artist, an actor and a businessman,” says the 30 year-old, who has lived in Westport since he was 10, when we ask how he would describe himself.
“And I love money,” he laughs.
“I’m saving up at the moment to build my own multi-purpose work-space. I’d like to have an office, a small café/restaurant, an art studio.”
Maitiú Quinn has been an artist ‘for years’. His love of art was sparked by Annie, who is also an artist, and who helped to design and run his website. His brother, Josh, who has a keen interest in music, moved home after Covid-19 hit and was a great source of support to Maitiú when lockdown hit.
Josh also helps him manage his new business Instragram page (@maitscards).
Maitiú is about to launch his third collection of greeting cards, which he designed himself, but there is so much more to his story.
He tells you about how work experience in The Creel restaurant in Westport gave him an idea for opening his own small café; and how he spent many days during the summer tending a small makeshift bar in the front garden.
His mother, Róisín, gives an insight into the road that Maitiú has travelled over the last seven years to get to this stage of a life less ordinary.
“Willie Walsh in Clan Beo in Westport, they started us all off,” she recalls.
“They organised conferences and brought speakers from all over. I remember going to so many of them and Maitiú was the driving force. He insisted on going and he took it all in. We’d have months afterwards then when Maitiú looked up courses and he insisted that he wanted to go to college.
“And it was Clan Beo who helped us find the ‘Blue Teapot’ company.”
That was 2013 and the beginning of the rest of Maitiú Quinn’s life. He spent three years with the well-known performing arts school in Galway city before graduating with flying colours.
Until last March, he still attended an ‘Arts Alive’ course there one day a week which allowed him to feed his passion for performing, acting, and yoga.
“The Blue Teapot Company transformed Maitiú’s life. He was so happy,” says Róisín.
“Maitiú is an ideas man. He’s a great man for coming up with ideas, but he needs somebody to keep him focussed and keep his nose to the grindstone.
“The Blue Teapot Company taught him so much during those three years.
“To realise Maitiú’s ambitions he needed to go somewhere like there.”
The next stop for the enterprising Maitiú Quinn was an evening arts course which he discovered during one of his many online searches.
That brought him into contact with Claire Griffin who worked with him, saw his talent and keen interest, and recommended a two-year arts course at the Westport College of Further Education for two years.
In the second year, the ETB supported Maitiú. “That made all the difference,” says Róisín.
And it was from all of that the idea for ‘Mait’s Cards’ were born.
When another good friend of Maitiú’s, Des Grealis, who worked with him, helped him to turn his passion and his hobby into a business.
And the rest is history.
These days he is also currently studying online courses in computers and business after the Mayo Down Syndrome Association pointed him in the right direction.
In his spare time, with the country in lockdown, Maitiú can often be seen walking around the local area. He has lost four and a half stone over the last two years and has the skinny jeans to prove it. “I’ve stopped eating bad carbs and I walk a lot,” he explains.
“I love walking. And I love dancing.”
“I was told initially that Maitiú wouldn’t walk anywhere,” smiles Nuala Mullins.
“Now he walks everywhere, you can’t stop him!”