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Tom Collins, Sign Artist

Here’s some more fine work by Limerick-based sign artist Tom Collins, this time the intricate craft of water gilding.



I was very taken by how well this project complemented a lovely old premises like Karl Kleiser’s piano shop, so I thought it might be nice to keep a record of the job, and then I thought, why not put a few of the pics together in the form of a little video?

Here you go.   I hope you like it.

Arts Favourites

Tom Collins, Sign Artist, Gives a Gilding Appreciation Workshop

Here’s Tom Collins, a Limerick-based sign artist.

In this video, he’s offering a lucky few the opportunity to gain an appreciation of water gilding, an ancient craft that hasn’t changed in a thousand years.




Have a look here at Tom hand-painting a sign.

Bock's People

Drawing a Submarine in Tom Collins’s

I was minding my own business last night having a quiet pint with a couple of friends when the new owner of an old establishment accosted me.

You! he said.

What? I replied, wittily.

I want a word with you.

About what? I demanded.

About the fucking submarine.

What fucking submarine? I demanded, devastatingly.

The submarine that somebody drew on the wall of the men’s toilet.  The newly-painted men’s toilet.

I stared at him, as scathingly and as steadily as six pints of Guinness would permit. Your point?

People are saying you did it.

Are they now?  And what exactly are these people saying?

That you drew a submarine on the wall of the men’s toilet.  The newly-painted men’s toilet, let me add.

I don’t draw on toilet walls, I said.  That’s a job for my underlings, but now that we’re on the subject, why did you paint out the great toilet-submarine of Tom Collins’s?

To decorate the place, he intoned slowly and patiently.  To clean it fucking up, y’know?

Some things should not be cleaned up, I advised him, including submarines.  You can’t sink a submarine.

Tell that to Günther Prien, he said.

I had no answer to that so I decided to flounce off, but unfortunately, men are not born with flouncing muscles, so I just slammed the door in his face and said Fuck you!


The flouncing didn’t last too long, because my friends were sitting at the bar nursing full pints and studying both of us pityingly, so I decided to have a look at this new submarine, and that was when I realised how defective the information was.

Come here to me, I said.  Are you seriously suggesting that I might have been satisfied with that childish scrawl in Biro?  Do you really think I’d put something like that on a toilet wall?

You’re depraved enough, he countered. And sufficiently unprincipled.

Indeed I am, I replied, but that is not a scribble I’d lower myself to.  I have my standards.  Nonetheless, I admire the fellow who kept the sub afloat.

The new proprietor studied me for a moment before answering, and it was then I finally knew he had a heart.

So do I, he said.


One of my friends leaned over and whispered quietly into my ear.  Your round.


Tom Collins’s


The Good Ship TC

It’s always the same when a new skipper takes over.

The crew get restless.  Rumours fly.  Superstition stalks the crew quarters.

And so it was in Tom Collins’s bar when word filtered through of a new owner.  Jesus Christ, will he be severe?  Will there be floggings?  Will he move my stool three inches so people can get past?

As it turned out, he did none of those things, and still they gazed.  All he did was fix the plumbing, so that the nose was no longer assaulted as the door opened.

Damn you for bringing change.  We liked that heavy sewage odour, muttered them down the back.  Damn you. We liked it.

And to those shivering up front in their anoraks and their duffels, he offered this insult: we shall install new rads.  New, yet old.  Radiators that radiate, and not simply some hopeful thing to channel the unknown Barcelona sun to frozen punters.

No indeed.  Real, warm heat where needed.

Do you know what a revolution is?  It doesn’t necessarily involve riots or bloodshed.  It might well involve nothing but a turning, and yet that turning can cause endless difficulty for those caught in the gyration, so I understand.

A small revolution and a quiet one.


No matter the peacefulness of a revolution, and no matter the bloodlessness, there’s always one symbol that survives.

In El Salvador, it was Sandino’s hat, turned on its side, the symbol of Infinity.  Perhaps you remember it and perhaps you do not, but in Tom Collins’s, it was the submarine.  Das Boot.   It survived attack by paint and by powder.  It survived opprobrium and opprobrium’s less posh friend, disapproval.  It survived much, but it failed to survive the new skipper, who torpedoed it.  But it is not yet sunk

I blundered into TC’s yesterday evening, following a hard day’s honest labour, and in the gentlemen’s rest room I spied, yet again, the ghost of the submarine, surfacing, seaweed-draped and forlorn, yet proud.

Tom’s!  Bring back the sub!!


Plus Ca Change …

Passing this fine establishment last evening, it crossed my mind that we were at the end of an era.

Locals will no doubt know very well that the venerable establishment, Tom Collins’s bar has passed into new ownership, and everyone agrees that young Mr Mulcahy is the very man to carry on the traditions of people talking nonsense at the bar and singing songs in the corner.

Sadly, we say goodbye to Catherine, who has managed the place on behalf of Michael Collins for more years than anyone cares to remember.

Mr Collins now relaxes at his home in Barcelona, free of the cares that beset a publican in these challenging times and with all the time in the world to concentrate on his painting.

Jesus, I said.  I’d better call in and wish Catherine all the best.

Young Mulcahy has shown great respect to the old place, changing almost nothing, but perhaps a little primping and preening here and there.   A little repainting.  A little rejuvenation, but retaining the spirit of Mrs Collins, who always had a gentle strain of classical music playing on an old tape deck, and fresh-cut flowers on the bar.

It was mobbed, as you’d expect.  People were walking around with trays, handing out oysters, befitting Tom Collins’s Oyster Saloon.

Good cheer and good news all round.

Where would you get it?