New Dublin auction house sells everything from pulpits to classic cars

Recently sales include a Rolex watch and a large Roman coin dating from 308-246 BC

In late July a new auction house entered the Irish market selling antiques, collectables and vintage goods. South Dublin Auction, based at a 12,000sq ft warehouse at 4 Finches Park on the Long Mile Road in Walkinstown, D12, is headed by Alan Conway and Ken Shorthall.

Conway, with a background in financial services, worked as an executive at the Bank of Ireland for more than 30 years before establishing his own advisory firm, Alway Consulting – advising clients on Irish property – which he still operates.

“I had always been interested in property and wanted to explore those interests. A good friend recommended a master’s in real estate [at Bolton Street], where I met Ken Shorthall. Auctioneering was something I was keen on delving a little deeper into as I had worked with a number of antique businesses over the years.

“Myself and Ken noticed that a number of auction houses were closing without any new ones opening. We thought this might be an opportunity to explore, and I decided to apply for my auctioneering licence through the PSRA [Property Services Regulatory Authority] and was fortunate to be accepted earlier this year,” says Conway.

Shorthall, who has a background as a chartered accountant having spent 20 years in financial management in the hospitality industry, spent his spare time buying and selling antiques until 2011 when he entered the business full time.

Starting off in Kildare with his business Irish Liquidators, and then moving to a larger premises in Tallaght to cope with the volume of liquidation sales during the recession, he eventually moved to Terenure to run his shop,Rugs to Rhinos, until it burned down last year,

Weekly sales

The pair had intended to start their weekly antique and collectable sales in March, but due to Covid-19 this was delayed until last month.

Now with a team of eight, the pair have held three auctions since opening their new auction house. The auctions run every Thursday at their premises and online at In addition, on the last Saturday of each month, beginning August 29th, the firm will hold specialised car auctions.

Recent sales included a set of S&M bondage whips and gear, which a buyer bought for €10 as a joke

Lots, of which there are about 500 each week, come from a variety of sources. “We have collectors who decide to sell on their collections along with jewellery dealers who also want to sell. In addition, we have people who have sold at car boot sales, so the variety each week is incredible,” says Shorthall.

Shorthall has worked for a number of years with storage companies who sell on the contents of lockers when rentals are not paid (not dissimilar to the Storage Wars TV series in the US). This can add to the eclectic mix of the catalogue; recent sales included a set of S&M bondage whips and gear, which he says a buyer bought for €10 as a joke, in addition to a cross-trainer machine which was never used – this sold for €20 – along with some important rock music memorabilia.

“This week a woman called in to collect something she had bought at last week’s sale, and saw the huge pulpit that came from a church in Tipperary which we had ready for the next week’s auction. She offered €1,000 and left with it within the hour. It is destined for a pub down the country and you wouldn’t buy the rails for the price she paid,” says Conway.

Recently sold items include a gentleman’s Rolex Yacht Master watch, boxed with papers and recently serviced, which achieved €4,800, along with a large Roman coin dating from 308-246 BC which sold for €70.

Listed in the current catalogue is a set of four Phillipe Starck chairs which Shorthall is expected to sell for just over €400.

No estimates

There are no estimates listed in the online catalogue – which may or may not deter buyers – but interested buyers can call the auction house for the reserve selling price, which has been agreed with the sellers.

The monthly car auctions will take place on the premises in Dublin 12. “I have been watching a couple of auction houses in the UK, most notably Silverstone in Ashorne and Classic Cars in Birmingham. We are trying to emulate what they do; with good condition collectible cars in the €3,000-€50,000 bracket.

“For example, in our first sale, we have a 1999 Fiat Barchetta, which translates as Little Boat. It is unusual to have this in a right hand drive. [Conway expects this to achieve between €5,000 and €7,000] all the way up to a 2003 Mercedes E55 AMG V8, which is a very rare.”

The antique, collectible and vintage catalogue will be online each Tuesday evening in advance of the Thursday weekly sale, with viewings all day Wednesday and Thursday until 2pm.

Online purchases

Social distancing is in operation, although the 12,000sq ft premises can accommodate 50 viewers at a time. Buyers premium is the industry standard of 20 per cent plus VAT, and online purchases made through Easyliveauction. com incur an extra 3 per cent, or €3 if paid in advance – which for car auctions can make a big difference to the overall price paid.

“We have been watching auctions for the past four years and know where the gaps in the market are,” says Shorthall. “We intend to fill them and take the auction market by storm.”