The following is a short history of of the origins of McKenna's in
Listowel. I took it from their website.
On the 17th October 1871 one Jeremiah Mckenna married Johanna
Horgan and started a business at No.3 Market street Listowel selling
general hardware. Very general. It's likely that there would have
been vegetables for sale alongside the ironmongery in the early days.
But all to the good; in 1875 the couple bought No.3. Then in 1880
tragedy struck, taking the form so well known in those times;
Jeremiah succumbed to tuberculosis and died, still a young man.
Alone with two small children Johanna had an overwhelming battle,
and the little business went into bankruptcy within a short time. This
much is known; what's not known is how she raised the funds to get
going again. But having recovered, she repaid all debts, a feature of
Mckenna's history to have a lasting effect on it's reputation well down
In 1907 her son John emigrated to America. A young man with his life
all ahead could find much opportunity there by comparison with the
Listowel of the time. But the letters from home kept drawing his
mind back to his mother who would persist in carrying on the business
at No.3. He well knew how much of a struggle it was for her, and
sailed out of New York before a year had passed.
John married Grace McMahon in 1909 and settled back in. Simply
supporting his Mother's efforts to keep the shop open wasn't enough
for him; he could feel some ideas of his own coming on. By 1912
Enright's creamery had been acquired. Here the stocking of building
supplies began and the creamery site eventually became known as
the Mill Yard.
In 1913 Johanna bought out the ground rent on No.3 Market street.
She died three years later, as John became a member of Kerry
County Council, and missed by a year his election to chairman.