A man who secretly collected thousands of items from car boot sales is putting his huge haul up for auction – and it includes three Wexford sign posts.
Motor enthusiast Hugh Nolan, 65, led a double life acquiring vintage cars, street signs, sign posts and other memorabilia – all of which goes under the online hammer at his ‘retirement auction’ next Monday and Tuesday. (Mar 27th & 28th)
A contract manager in the construction trade in Belfast for 30 years, Nolan curated the 1,200-lot collection in his spare time through car boot sales, before opening McNean Antique and Salvage Shop in Blacklion, Co Cavan.
Everything in that store, collected in Ireland and internationally, must go – including a staggering collection of around 200 vintage Irish street signs and sign posts.
Highly sought after by ex-pats, especially those running restaurants and pubs overseas, some can fetch thousands of euro.
The Wexford part of the collection includes signs for New Ross, Enniscorthy and Wexford town.
“The signage would have come in to private ownership as they were being replaced – they are worthless to whoever is swapping them out for a newer sign, so in many cases they would have been marked to be destroyed,” said Nolan.
“I never told anyone I had a second life while I was working in the building trade; I would get up at 5am on a Sunday to do the car boot sale circuit.
“I sold nothing and bought everything; I had things stored in every nook and cranny of the house, from the attic to the garage, before opening the store.”
There’s even a touch of A-List glamour: pub and garage signs he picked up over the years have made it into scenes in forthcoming movie ‘In the Land of Saints and Sinners’, starring Liam Neeson, Colm Meaney and Kerry Condon.
The signs face stiff competition from a 3.5L 1970 Rover V8, guided at €15,000 and owned by Nolan since 2006.
It has been professionally resprayed and is in full working order.
The auction is being co-ordinated by Aidan Foley and Niall Mullen.
“Typically, collections similar to what I have only come on sale when the owner dies,” said Nolan.
“I want to put mine on the market now while I can enjoy it and have many conversations with similar minded enthusiasts.”
The Hugh Nolan retirement auction takes place live at easyliveauction.com/auctions on March 27th and 28th, with viewing at the antique shop in Blacklion on March 24, 25 and 26 from 10am – 5pm.