Simon Quilligan (1939-2015)
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Simon Quilligan (1939-2015)


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This recording was compiled with well-known antiques dealer, Simon Quilligan, at his business premises in Adare village in August 2013. The house was once the home of local general practitioner Dr Costello, and Simon Quilligan had been trading there since 1980. He explains that at the very young age of 9 years, he began work with local farmers in the Rathkeale area, and he emigrated to England in 1954. He worked with an antiques dealer there and would help to set up his stand at Bermondsey Antiques Fair, which gave him his first taste of dealing in antiques. He quite quickly began to make a living dealing in everything, including caravans which he would buy in England and bring to Ireland to sell. He initially worked from a warehouse in Staffordshire, and he got to know his customers both in England and in Ireland. Rathkeale was his home town, and his father gave him space in his store in Pound Lane where he worked before later moving to Chapel Lane in the town. The auction rooms, including Scullys and Tormeys which were situated along the quays in Dublin are recalled, and he says that he could be “noisey” and was sometimes asked to leave, though he would later return and continue bidding. In those days he drove a Ford truck which he would load up with his purchases. He has a special mention for the Orken brothers who were well-known antiques dealers in Dublin with whom he would trade. Other well-known dealers in those days were the Johnsons, the Kenyons, the Cookes and the O’Connells. He recalls the fine and loud banter they engaged in as they tried to strike a deal. He mentions an encounter he had with old Mr Adam of Adams Auctioneers on Stephen’s Green in Dublin.
Big House sales were always very well attended, he says, and he recalls the sale at Castlewellan in Co. Down and also at Adare Manor, which ran over three days. Simon recalls this as a great sale, and prices were high as people wanted to purchase something to own as a memento from the Manor. He describes in detail his house visits at home and abroad, and he mentions in particular a house in northern Scotland. West Cork is described as a “great hunting ground”. He recounts a story about seeing a ghost on a visit to Sir Walter Beechman’s home, situated between Ardee and Dundalk in Co. Louth. His purchase of an old pine dresser from a cottage, which he immediately sold on to “Crying Dan” Sheridan, is remembered with a great smile. As Sheridan was driving through Dromcollogher with the dresser tied to the top of his van, the old money which the previous owner had hidden in the dresser took flight from its hiding place and floated around the town. The town of Rathkeale has many resident antiques dealing families, including the Flynns, the Sheridans, the Gammels, the Slatterys and the Quilligans. All of these families are related, Simon explains, and he goes on to describe where their knowledge of antiques comes from. In conclusion, he says that he has had “a very happy life” and has enjoyed every minute of it. Simon Quilligan sadly passed away following an illness in August 2015.

Additional information



Audio series:

The Adare Manor and Village Oral History Collection


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

70.4 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



A local antiques dealer recalls his life experiences

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore