An Ode to the Tattooed Irish
[Editor's Note: Thrilled to have Pat Sullivan blogging here, especially today!]
Photo taken from Pat Fish's Tattoo Portfolio Video.
St. Patrick's Day is here and though it's possible that by the time you read this it may have kicked your ass in a drunken Irish twister of green beer, Clancy Brothers sing-a-long, and maybe a brawl or two, I thought a quick and semi-scattered minute on Ireland and tattoos might be fitting.
Let's start with the inventive Irishman Samuel O'Reilly, who opened up shop on the Bowery in NYC's Chinatown in 1875. O'Reilly modified Thomas Edison's "autographic printer," essentially creating the modern electric tattoo machine that would revolutionize tattooing overnight. O'Reilly later apprenticed Charlie Wagner, one of the most well known (and well documented) tattooists in the good ol' USA who was ingrained in the tattoo-freak-show-New-York of the 1930s and 40s.
Next up is Norman Keith Collins, Sailor Jerry, Old Ironsides himself. Though trying to tie his Collins bloodline to west Cork and Ireland's own Michael Collins is probably impossible, his ancestry is undeniable. Equally undeniable is, of course, Sailor Jerry's influence on the world of tattoo -- now made even more so by the Sailor Jerry brand -- for what he brought to the craft, the artwork and, lets be honest, the 'tude.
Dedicated to keeping the Celtic and Pictish tattoo traditions alive today is tattoo artist Pat Fish aka the Queen of Celt. Working out of Tattoo Santa Barbara in California, Pat Fish has amassed a dense library of designs on what has to be thousands of clients. Her work is amazing and if I happened to live on the other coast, I'd be over there in no time.
Most likely belting out a rebel songs about this time is the crew at Classic Ink Tattoo in Dublin. Though they work with other styles, their traditional ink punches up that old fighting spirit, whether it's a harp, a memorial or just a classy naked lass. I've never met the artists there, but let's just say it's one more reason to get back to Dublin.
So when you raise your glass this St. Paddy's, give a small cheers for those tattooed Irish and Irish Americans who have been part of the story and those who keep the needles buzzing.
Happy St. Paddy's Day!