Michael passed away on the day of his 90th birthday

The late Michael Sheehan pictured behind the counter of his landmark business on Main Street, Killarney.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

THE nephew of popular Killarney businessman Michael Sheehan, who was laid to rest in Aghadoe Cemetery on Tuesday, said he hopes people will remember his uncle and his friendly smile every time they pass by Reidy’s on Main Street.

Michael passed away at St Joseph’s Nursing Home in Kenmare last Thursday which was the day of his 90th birthday.

At his Requiem Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral, his nephew David remembered a kind, generous and fun-loving uncle who was his mum Nora’s twin brother.

Although based in the UK, David said he has very fond memories of their regular family visits to Killarney where Michael tutored him on how to hit a golf ball and taught him to drive in his Austin Cambridge – at the age of 10.

At the time Michael operated a busy hardware store at 3 Main Street and he always had a great business sense, knowing what would be in demand with customers. Michael was born above the business and he and his other sister, Marie, lived and worked in the shop all their lives.

John M Reidy’s on Main Street

David remembered spending hours hammering nails into the counter of the hardware shop and a bemused Michael standing there watching him and allowing him to enjoy the fun.

He also recalled a very generous uncle who would press money into the hands of David and his siblings and tell them to buy sweets or go to the cinema. When they grew up and had children of their own, he repeated the generosity to the next generation.

“Michael saw the best in everyone and he would help anyone who asked. He was the last of our close family in Ireland and it seems like the end of an era,” said David.

He said he knows that his uncle will be fondly remembered by many people as he had seen the many kind posts on Facebook from people who knew him or simply bought sweets from him in the shop.

A vintage cash register behind the counter of Reidy’s

He hopes that the landmark shop on Main Street will keep his memory alive.

Michael will be remembered by a whole generation of locals and visitors as the quietly-spoken and friendly face behind the counter of the sweetshop and general goods store he and Marie had operated throughout their lives.

Featured for decades on postcards and tourist brochures and photographed tens of thousands of times, the JM Reidy’s premises, which dates back to 1870, is the standout feature on the Killarney streetscape.

Since Michael’s retirement, the premises has been leased and it is now a hugely successful bar and restaurant.