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A design for life: ‘My 24-year-old kids are outraged that I might get a tattoo before they do. I’ve beaten them to it’

Tattoo culture is now part of the mainstream, with more people than ever getting inked. Our writer spends a day in a Dublin parlour to find out how attitudes are changing before jumping into the chair himself...

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Artist Ivan Caballero working on Alex Meehan's new tattoo. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Artist Ivan Caballero working on Alex Meehan's new tattoo. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Alex Meehan at The Ink Factory on Dublin's Wellington Quay. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Alex Meehan at The Ink Factory on Dublin's Wellington Quay. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Megan Munnelly getting tattooed by artist Dean McCann. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Megan Munnelly getting tattooed by artist Dean McCann. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Ink factory weekend feature. Alex Meehan has his tattoo applied by artist Ivan Caballero Picture; Gerry Mooney

Ink factory weekend feature. Alex Meehan has his tattoo applied by artist Ivan Caballero Picture; Gerry Mooney

Gerry Doyle, who got his first tattoo at the age of 55

Gerry Doyle, who got his first tattoo at the age of 55

Ink factory weekend feature. Megan Munnelly has her tattoo applied by artist Dean McCann. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Ink factory weekend feature. Megan Munnelly has her tattoo applied by artist Dean McCann. Picture; Gerry Mooney

A unique tattoo design in progress at The Ink Factory. Picture: Gerry Mooney

A unique tattoo design in progress at The Ink Factory. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Artist Ivan Caballero working on Alex’s tattoo. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Artist Ivan Caballero working on Alex’s tattoo. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Gerry Doyle has his tattoo applied by artist Lofi Cruz. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Gerry Doyle has his tattoo applied by artist Lofi Cruz. Picture: Gerry Mooney

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Artist Ivan Caballero working on Alex Meehan's new tattoo. Picture: Gerry Mooney

It was the pain that surprised me the most. Lots of my friends with tattoos all said the same thing — that the pain isn’t that big of a deal. “Just grit your teeth and you’ll be fine. Sure some people even fall asleep on the table,” said one.

Well, I can tell you that I was not one of those people. Not only did I not fall asleep, it was only through sheer willpower that I didn’t leave the chair after 10 minutes. Only the thought of wandering around for the rest of my life with a half-done tattoo stopped me.


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