A beloved tattooist has died less than a year after marrying his teenage sweetheart.
Sean “the Beard” Brennan, of Fishponds, died of cancer on August 31, sparking tributes from hundreds of regulars at his Chepstow shop, Sean’s Tattoos.
Known for his patience and sense of humour, the 54-year-old, who grew up in Hartcliffe and Lockleaze, was a magnet for customers, even those nervous of the needle.
On Christmas Eve, a previously fit and healthy Sean learned a lump on his back was cancerous and there was nothing doctors could do, Gloucestershire Live reports.
One of the first things Sean did was marry the love of his life Lucy, whom he met as a 17-year-old recruit based at the army apprentice college in Beachley.
The pair dated for several years but split up when trainee blacksmith Sean was posted to Germany.
After years apart, the couple were reunited in 1987, when Sean’s mum and sister were on a shopping trip to Bristol’s St Nicholas Market and bumped into Lucy, who had a clothes stall there.
“Sean’s mum told him he had seen Lucy there, and she set it up for Sean to go to Bristol and meet her,” said Lucy’s sister Sarah Sanders.
“Two weeks later Lucy ran away to Kent with him, where he was living at the time.”
‘A true love story’
Lucy’s other sister Emma added: “Theirs is a true love story. They couldn’t be without each other.
“Once when he was interviewed about his work they asked him what he would take on a desert island. He said, ‘Her name is Lucy.’
“He was a real foodie and always said the best bit of any day was going home to tea with Lucy.”
The couple eventually moved from Kent to Eastville, before settling in Fishponds.
Sarah said: “Although they were together for 30 years and regarded marriage as a piece of paper, Lucy wanted to show that she was there for him in sickness as well as health so they married in January this year.”
Bike-mad Sean had always wanted to be a tattooist and in 1991 he learned the art at the Chepstow shop which he later took over.
By 1994 he owned the shop, attracting people from both sides of the Severn bridge and beyond.
He was a valued member of the tight-knit ‘Skin Deep’ tattooing community in Bristol.
Sean left a mark on hundreds of people in the small market town of Chepstow and his customers carry fond memories about how his bearded, biker persona belied a gentlemanly personality.
Emma worked with him in the shop and said the family were not surprised to get hundreds of tributes when she posted news of his death on social media.
“What was humbling was that every comment was a positive one and so many kind words were spoken,” she added.
“How Sean touched so many lives is overwhelming and makes his family feel even more proud than we already are.”
One message from a colleague read: “We lost a good man today…..Sean The Beard – the loveliest bloke in the tattoo industry.”
Emma said: “He could communicate with anyone from any walk of life.
“He was able to pitch his conversations with any person who sat in his chair and the experience of being tattooed or pierced by him was always memorable because of this.
“He had so much experience and knowledge and was able to entertain with his stories.
“Sean had the ability to make everyone feel welcome and special for the time they were in his company.”
She says despite being self taught his talent also shone through and many of the tributes came from customers praising his work.
“Sean was a proud, old school tattooist and despite how the tattooing world changed over his lifetime, he endeavoured to be true to what he liked and what he believed in and kept his values steadfast with regards to keeping it real and how he believed it should be,” she continued.
Sean’s ‘Iron Horses’
Sean accumulated a variety of motorcycles which he called his “Iron Horses”.
He rode his bike to work every day, rain or shine, and even after passing his driving test at 47 he continued to ride his motorbike as he said “four wheels don’t feel right”.
After his cancer diagnosis at the end of 2018, Sean spent his last 10 months at home with Lucy.
Sean will be taken to his funeral at Westerleigh Crematorium Bristol in a sidecar and friends are welcome to arrive by bike.
The funeral will be held at 2pm on Monday, September 23.
For the latest news in and around Bristol, check back on Bristol Live’s homepage.