Future Proof: RJ Keighery Antiques, Waterford
Keeping abreast of current tastes crucial in antiques trade
Keighery’s antiques shop in Waterford has operated successfully for more than 60 years
Waterford’s largest and oldest antiques dealership and auction house may have one foot firmly rooted in the past but it’s also keeping abreast of the latest trends.
Established in Kilmacthomas in 1949 by the current owner’s father Patrick, RJ Keighery Antiques has since become a mainstay in nearby Waterford city. For a time Patrick Keighery had shops in both locations but eventually closed the Kilmacthomas outlet to concentrate on the booming city-centre business.
Based on William Street since 1968, the business is now run by Patrick’s son Rody and his wife, Anne, together with their son, Thomas.
While the antiques shop has been operating successfully for more than 60 years, it is the auctioneering side to the business that has helped the family prosper.
What began as a sideline in the 1980s became a fully fledged operation in 1992, when the Keigherys bought a 465sq m purpose-built premises adjoining the antiques store, where auctions are regularly held.
“We usually hold between 10 and 12 auctions a year, most of which focus on antique and general items, but we also hold a number of specialised ones as well, focusing on things like pub and restaurant memorabilia, jewellery and so on,” said Anne Keighery.
Worldwide audience “Our auctions have quite a big following locally, as do the country house ones we do where we set up a marquee and the rostrum on location. We don’t do live bidding online but our auctions are up on our website and so have gained popularity with a worldwide audience,” she added.
“In our last auction, items went to New Zealand, Australia, the US, China and Vietnam, rather than just locally. Some goods like Waterford Crystal are very popular outside of Ireland.”
The key to being a success as an auctioneer is, she said, to be a bit of an entertainer.
“My husband is a big character. You need to have lots of jokes to hand because sometimes the auctions could have up to 1,200 lots and so we’d be running from, say, 10.30am to 8pm. You have to have some fun if you’re going to keep people there for the day.”
She said that having the auctions meant it was easier to sell items sourced from Waterford and its environs.
“We’ve found it can be difficult to sell local furniture in the shop sometimes because people don’t like to see the mark- up on items, despite there needing to be one if we’re to survive. Auctions are easier in some ways, because we just operate on commission,” she said.