This was the wish expressed by many dealers ATG spoke to at Ireland’s premier annual showcase, the 51st Irish Antique Dealers Association 2016 Fair, held over 22-25 September at the RDS in Dublin.
Ireland only recently emerged from the 2008 financial crisis and now faces the uncertainty around trade barriers that might result from Brexit. The two countries have closely connected art and antiques markets, with pictures, furniture, ceramics and silver criss-crossing the Irish Sea.
Finance and technology companies in particular are looking to relocate their headquarters to Ireland ahead of the UK’s departure from Europe, with dealers hoping for a boost in demand for property and chattels to follow.
Beware the Brexit hype
However some dealers downplayed any Brexit impact on Irish antiques. “Brexit will be like the Millennium Bug – a huge fuss that will fizzle out,” said Joe Boyle, a partner in Dublin-based Alymer Fine Art. “All the practical issues will be settled, and overall the effect will be negligible.”
Aylmer Fine Art sells an eclectic mix of bronzes, paintings and furniture, and, in common with many IADA exhibitors, sources from the UK and Europe.
Not everyone at the fair was as sanguine about Brexit as Boyle, with some fearing extra paperwork and tariffs on movement of goods between the two countries. “I am nervous because we do business back and forth with the UK,” said Eoin Ryan of Straffan Antiques in Kildare, which had two stands at the fair.
“I’ve just fitted out a house in Ascot with a mix of Irish and English furniture. So we’ll see if Brexit interferes with that flow of goods.”
Ryan believes a more diverse approach will help Irish dealers survive any fallout from Brexit. “You have to be able to do everything in this market,” he said, pointing out that Straffan’s services range from restoration to restauranteur.
At the stand of decorative and architectural dealers The Store Yard (Portlaoise), talk was of the opportunity presented by Ireland’s success as a film and TV production location. Penny Dreadful and Ripper Street are just two of the shows featuring stock from The Store Yard.
The firm sources regularly from UK fairs such as Newark, saying that sterling’s fall in value is a bonus.
See next week's Antiques Trade Gazette (ATG No 2263) for an auction report on Whyte's recent Irish art sale