Smith, Constantine Albert (‘Con’) (1928–72), businessman, was born 29 October 1928 in Co. Cavan, one of two sons and a daughter of Constantine P. Smith, garage owner, and Anne Smith (née Gormley). He was educated at Terenure College, Dublin, and later at UCD, where he studied architecture for a time before pursuing a course in law and economics. He subsequently attended Pallaskenry agricultural college, Co. Limerick. He entered the family motor business in Cavan town at the age of 27, and soon gathered a team of experts that would help him expand and develop his business. The family enterprise had been started (1919) by his grandfather as a garage and bicycle-repair shop. Smith, guided by his team of advisers, began to buy up garages around the country, and by 1964 had approximately twenty-five garages under his control. In 1964 his business was awarded the coveted franchise to assemble Renault vehicles for the Irish market, which was carried out in Smith's Wexford garages. By this time, the company had moved away to a significant extent from its original activities. In 1954 it entered the agricultural machinery business, and in 1963 the engineering sector, with the creation of Smith Engineering. During the mid to late 1960s the group expanded its reach into even more widely dispersed business sectors, including construction (by way of the purchase of the Murdoch hardware chain), property, and finance. In 1969 Smith essayed a merger with the Vincent Brittain Group, a company that then held the franchise for the assembly of British Leyland vehicles in Ireland. This partnership, however, was short-lived and the two groups split within a year, leaving the Smith Group with a stock market listing by 1970.
Smith was a director of many Irish companies, including Irish Ropes. He also was on the board of the Central Bank and New Ireland Assurance, which he urged to modernise its ways. His private interests included the assembly of Peugeot cars and the Arco furniture company in Waterford, which he bought in October 1971. Taking all his interests into account, he had control of over fifty companies in a wide variety of fields. It was a measure of his importance within Irish industry and, indeed, his popularity, that he was elected twice (1971, 1972) to the position of president of the Confederation of Irish Industry – the second time, in the week before his death. Together with Ned Grey (qv), he helped to reshape the image of the Confederation.
In May and June 1971 details of the biggest deal in Smith's life were brought to a near conclusion. It was to have seen the Smith Group, with Smith as chief executive and majority shareholder, merge with the publicly quoted fertiliser firm, W. & H. M. Goulding. The successful conclusion of the deal would have resulted in the creation of the second largest industrial unit in Ireland, with Smith holding a 22 per cent stake in the new entity. As the merger plans with Goulding's were on the point of completion, Smith, in his capacity as president of the Confederation of Irish Industries, set out for Brussels as part of a fact-finding delegation of Irish businessmen. On 18 June 1972 the plane on which he was travelling crashed at Staines, four miles after take-off from Heathrow airport, London. There were no survivors.
He married in Rome, Gemma Faccenda, daughter of an Italian doctor, they had four daughters and lived in Killiney, Co. Dublin. The Smith Group subsequently became known as the Gowan Group, of which his widow (who remarried as Mrs Gemma Maughan) was the largest shareholder and a member of the board, and Mrs Fiona Thomas, one of their daughters, was also a shareholder and a director.