Snoddy, Theodore John ('Theo') (1922–2008), art critic and historian, was born in Lurgan hospital, Co. Armagh, on 30 November 1922, one of two sons of John Snoddy and his wife Emily Elizabeth (née Sinton), residing at that date in Boconnel House, Lurgan. Emily Sinton was the daughter of a prosperous farming family, members of the Society of Friends, from Tamnaghmore, Co. Armagh, who were distantly related to several prominent and wealthy nineteenth-century industrialists in Ulster and in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the USA. Theo attended Friends' School in Lisburn, and maintained strong links with it afterwards. A lifelong member of the Society of Friends, he was chairman of the board of governors of Friends' School for some years. He left school, aged 15, for a job in the offices of the Belfast News Letter and worked there in various management posts until he retired in 1977 as purchasing manager; he also had a parallel career as a journalist, thanks originally to his lifelong interest in sports. Around 1946, he founded and edited a pioneering newssheet, the Ulster Bowler, for those interested in lawn bowls; in 1962, known as the Bowler, the magazine was still available.
Snoddy also reported on Irish hockey in the Belfast News Letter; he had been an enthusiastic player in his youth, and in the 1960s was a founder member and captain of Friends' Old Boys Hockey Club, which became one of the leading clubs in Ulster. Snoddy's other area of interest was art, and for thirty years he wrote on art and reviewed exhibitions for the News Letter. In preparing his articles, he used the magisterial Dictionary of Irish artists (1913) of Walter Strickland (qv), and was involved with the publication of a facsimile edition of Strickland in 1969, but even at that date was working on a follow-up volume to cover the twentieth century. He provided biographies of more recent Ulster artists in two volumes edited by John Hewitt (qv) under the title Art in Ulster (1977), and worked throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s on his own Dictionary of Irish artists: twentieth century, which appeared in 1996, and included five hundred or so artists who had died before December 1990. There was a second edition, with corrections and one hundred additional biographies, in 2002.
His work follows Strickland's model quite closely, in its careful research and marshalling of detailed facts, but his reach was if anything even wider, including many artists who were amateurs rather than professional, and consequently still more difficult to track down. He undertook to visit galleries and archives throughout Great Britain and Ireland. The amount of work involved for a solitary author would have daunted even the most assiduous of Victorian scholars, but Snoddy developed techniques to tap the knowledge of a wider community. For years he published letters in newspapers all over Ireland requesting information about little-known artists; he offered to send charity donations to Alone (founded in Dublin by Willie Bermingham (qv)), if people sent him old exhibition catalogues. The biographies do not generally include Snoddy's personal opinions of any artists' work but, like his short introduction, are gracefully written and interesting to read despite their density of information.
While so deeply engaged in research, Snoddy was also tasked with developing and maintaining an important art collection, that of Ulster Television, based in Havelock House, Belfast. For fifteen years, he sought out and purchased over two hundred works by contemporary Ulster artists, organised occasional travelling exhibitions with carefully written catalogues, and gave introductory lectures on the works. Part of his own small collection of modern Irish art was sold after his death, which occurred in Belfast on 12 June 2008. He was survived by his wife Betty and by a daughter and four sons, among whom Stephen Snoddy is prominent in cultural administration in England, Alan Snoddy was an international football referee, and Paul Snoddy worked as an architect with the 2012 Olympic games in London.