I was born in London in 1959 but came to Ireland three months later to live with my maternal grandparents in Co. Wicklow. Both of my grandparents were inveterate collectors/hoarders – my grandmother could never throw anything away and my grandfather could never pass by anything that he saw lying on the street no matter big or small. Born as long ago as 1881, he had haunted the once plentiful auction rooms on Dublin’s quays in the 1920′s, and as a consequence, the “bungalow” that I grew up in was stuffed with Jacobean, Victorian & Edwardian furniture. My grandmother also collected everything but pride of place went to her wonderful collection of Clarice Cliff ceramics – more of which later.
Growing up in this environment I fell into the collecting habit at an early age, beginning with things that cost nothing such as cigarette packets, beer bottle tops, stamps, beer mats, sea shells and this was before I had started at primary school. I moved on rapidly once I started at school and, along with several friends, was the scourge of the wild bird population of my hometown and much of the adjoining county. Thankfully this short destructive period of egg collecting led me to an appreciation of birds and the need to protect them. After birds came trains; by far my most crazy and expensive foray into collecting, and at its peak included a 25% stake in an operating steam railway and a vast collection of railwayana, locomotives, carriages, wagons and buses.
That’s me in the green jacket with my pride and joy – a Wickham railcar from Scotland – after its arrival on the railway.
The railway adventure ended very badly and I recently disposed of my interest in the concern for about 1% of its estimated value – truly a case of ‘a fool and his money’!
During the railway madness, I had also become interested in phoneboxes – caused by my childhood love of the BBC Dr Who TV series – and this led to the purchase of two full size British red phoneboxes. I have since replaced them with a 1950s Meccano one which takes up considerably less space.
A related interest in post boxes led to the acquisition of several full-size examples, but these too are now long gone and I have downsized to some very attractive miniature versions (made in China!) which fit nicely on the bookcase. I now collect 00 gauge model railways for my children and SM32 (Garden Railway gauge) for myself – still expensive but manageable and a fraction of the price of the real thing.
My latest acquisition, a garden railway, battery-powered Wickham railcar – pictured above – identical to the full size one but a lot more manageable!
While I have continued to downsize massively I still collect a diverse range of things including stoneware ginger beer bottles, hotel crockery, breweriana, Isle of Man travel posters and kitchenalia – more of which later.
So, that’s more than enough about me. The main purpose of this blog is to provide a regularly updated information service to What’s on and Where to go to find Antiques & Collectables in Ireland. I hope that you will find it useful. Do sign up to receive emails whenever there’s a new post – it’s FREE – and please leave comments as there’s a prize on offer for the most helpful one.