Tag Archives: Thomas Colven

Tom ‘Sawer’ and Judy Garland

Thomas Colven - he always wore a bow-tie and claimed he had worn one 'even before I began meeting actors'
Thomas Colven – he always wore a bow-tie and claimed he had worn one ‘even before I began meeting actors’

Sixty years ago, Thomas Colven, the stage carpenter of the Theatre Royal, which stood opposite Mulligan’s, gave an interview in which he spoke about the appearance of Judy Garland at the venue.

The interview was given to the Irish Times and published on 30 January 1954.

Colven was 74 at the time. He began his career in 1899. His apprenticeship included stints at Covent Garden and Drury Lane in London, the Wintergarten in Berlin, the Hansa Theatre in Hamburg and the Follies Maraine and Alhambra in Paris.

He said the most challenging task ever put to him was to make an 11 foot metal Christmas tree to seat twenty members of a choir.

His work in the Theatre Royal brought him into contact with some of the greatest performers of the first half of the twentieth century. He had conversed with Caruso, Count John McCormack, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Gene Autry for whom he made a special box to hold his huge white cowboy boots.

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 20.58.09

Colven spoke also of Judy Garland who appeared at the Theatre Royal in the first week of June 1951:

‘She was so nervous that I had to build a special wooden block on the stage to stop her from walking over the foot-lights.”

During her week-long engagement in Dublin, Garland established a strong connection with Mulligan’s which is detailed in Mulligan’s – the grand old pub of Poolbeg Street by Declan Dunne, on sale May 2015.