A NEW Sky series follows Dublin antiques dealer Ian Dowling as he travels across Ireland searching for hidden treasures.
Picked up from the Blaze channel, Irish Pickers has been promoted to Sky History, where the series premiered on September 21.
The 10-part series, narrated by Father Ted and Death in Paradise star Ardal O’Hanlon, follows Dowling and his friend Butzy on the search for historical artefacts.
“The Irish Pickers work from above Mulligans pub on Poolbeg Street in Dublin – an iconic venue which has remained unspoilt for more than 230 years,” Dowling explains.
“If the walls of Mulligans could talk, the stories it could tell,” he added, explaining: “Judy Garland used to drink here seven nights a week, smoking and playing poker until the early hours after her shows at the Theatre Royal across the road.
“Shortly before John F. Kennedy became Junior Senator for Massachusetts he visited Mulligans in the mid 1950s to see James Joyce’s favourite perch at the bar.”
He added: “The Grandfather Clock in Mulligans holds the ashes of a Texas tourist named Brooks Carter. He loved Mulligan's so much he requested his ashes be interred in it. Every eight days, the staff “wind up Billy”.
“The same Grandfather Clock was used to conceal guns during a British raid in the War of Independence.”
Each episode of the show starts and finishes in the pub.
Dowling’s own love of antiques began in childhood, where he claims he “developed an ability to buy and sell”.
“In my teens I became fascinated by Irish history, culture and old items,” he explains.
“I worked mostly sales jobs in my twenties, everything from selling milk door to door, bringing people into bars for commission in Ibiza and Ayia Napa and hired to cold call for an Estate agent during the property boom.
“I travelled in 2008 and when I returned to the economic crash in 2009 it was a very sobering experience.
“With no prospects and no income, things were looking very grim. Then one night in the pub, fortune struck.
“I won €13,500 on a €2 lottery ticket. The pub was the host of a lottery each week in fundraising for the local Gaelic Football club. I won the jackpot after it rolled over for a year. It was a blessing from above. I used this capital to start Rare Irish Stuff and have been professionally wheeling and dealing since.”
Dowling pitched Irish Pickers to Rob Carey of Curve Media, who, in 2010, launched American Pickers in the US and in 2011 launched Salvage Hunters in the UK.
“When Rob and I first met a few years ago, I explained why I believed Irish Pickers could build an audience to rival American Pickers and Salvage Hunters,” Dowling explains.
“Rob quickly realised Ireland was an ideal picking location thanks to its treasure, quirky personalities, rich history and scenery.
“He also saw huge potential in a fresh cast that could bring new life to this popular genre of television.”
Irish Pickers airs on Sky History on Mondays at 10pm. The first episode, which aired on September 21, can be watched again at 6pm on September 27.