Jimmy Smyth backs out of Presidential race due to ill health

By Louise Walsh

Internationally-acclaimed guitarist Jimmy Smyth has backed out of the presidential race due to health reasons, despite getting a possible nod from two councils.

The Meath native who is living in Dublin said he received calls from both Sligo and Kilkenny Councils about possible nominations but he had to reluctantly decline.

He was hospitalised in recent weeks and advised to take two months off work by medics, which has put him out of the campaign to get approval from four local authorities.

In thanking his supporters on social media, he said: "I've sadly had to withdraw from the presidential campaign because of health reasons

"I'm taking some time out. I had to be hospitalised but I'm fine.

I just have to take some time out for myself which is ironic because two of the councils had been in touch about nominating me.

"Just like to make clear, this was never about Michael D (Higgins) of whom I'm a big fan.

"It was about a test of our democracy which is sadly failing in my opinion."

He said he was considering making a documentary about his experience on the campaign trail for nominations at a later date but now he was just going to rest.

"I'd like to thank everyone for their support and good wishes. This is not over and you might see me back in some political capacity next year," he added.

Jimmy -whose band The Bogey Boys was once supported by U2 and who was once asked to join Thin Lizzy by Phil Lynott, had gained the backing of jazz maestro Paddy Cole, Imelda May and Steve Wickham to try and woo the councils nominations.

Artists Don Baker, Mary Coughlan and Finbar Furey had also shown support for him in recent weeks.

Over the years, the Grammy-nominated star has worked with artists including Van Morrison, Tony Childs, Roger Dalrey, Curtis Steigers, Chaka Khan, Lisa Stansfield, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Mary Coughlan and Roger Daltrey as well as the National Concert and RTE Orchestras.

He was even notoriously mentioned on the Late Lunch Show when Gay Byrne described legendary Rory Gallagher as Ireland's best guitarist and the Donegal man replied that there was a better guitarist from Navan called Jimmy Smyth.

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