Tony and Neil McSharry of Kennedy & McSharry
From dressing the Irish Rugby Team to customers like Michael Collins, Kennedy & McSharry in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre have a story that makes them unique to Dublin.
Family run businesses often stand the test of time, and for Kennedy & McSharry this is truly evident. Established back in 1890, this menswear accessories boutique has seen three locations of over a century long. Nearing its 130th birthday, we spoke with brothers Tony and Neil McSharry about Kennedy & McSharry.
Tell us Tony, what is the history behind Kennedy & McSharry?
I’m here with my younger brother Neil, and I’m in the business a long time. I started working in the old Brown Thomas in the 1960s before going to London for a short time, and I always loved the hat business and accessories. Kennedy & McSharry has been going for a long time, though we moved to Powerscourt about six years ago. We are a nice, niche business with the hats and all that.
Of the original Kennedy & McSharry, McSharry was our grandfather and he originally worked in Arnotts with John Kennedy. They decided to open shop themselves on Westmoreland Street back in 1890. When John Kennedy eventually retired, and as he didn’t marry, they came to an arrangement in the 1920s that the McSharry family would continue the business but keep the name. My father and uncle continued the business, then they passed it down to my brother and me.
Unfortunately, there was a fire in Westmoreland Street in the Regent Hotel above, so when the building had to be restored we had to move and found Nassau Street. Then as the rents were high there and killed business a bit, my brother Neil and I wanted to continue and moved therefore to Powerscourt Townhouse Centre.
What can customers expect from your unique store?
Service and they want to know that we know what we’re talking about. When it comes to hats, there’s a lot of sizes for hats but a lot of shops don’t want to deal with this. But customers have confidence coming to us because we know what we’re talking about.
What kind of clientele do you have at Kennedy & McSharry?
It’s actually very broad. At one time I would have said very traditional with the middle to older age group, but now that’s changed and become younger. ‘Peaky Blinders’ and the even Beckhams have helped make hats quite trendy! There is a much bigger interest from young people nowadays.
The other thing would be that we’re very open. Young people that may be intimidated going into a shop, when they come by here to buy bow ties or anything for their Debs or the likes, because we work an open counter, they don’t feel too intimidated. They can come to us and root around without feeling that they have to buy.
‘Peaky Blinders’ was a huge success for the fashion in Ireland, and you mention you’ve benefited too?
Yes, they have helped! And in addition, we get many people asking “do you know that hat that Cillian Murphy wears?” and they’ll explain it or show us a photo. And then there’s of course the race days, which is very popular too.
Neil, I believe you have a famous customer; can you tell us more about who he is and what he bought?
Oh yes, Michael Collins it was in 1922! He came in for basic shirts, ties and hats. At that time there was a lot of account customers as it was before credit cards. So those customers might buy pieces and pay for it later.
And can you tell us more about your partnership with the Irish Rugby team?
For a long time over the years we’ve been associated with them. They have sponsorship from different brands at different times, and at the moment it’s Eden Park. They give us their clothing and it’s up to us to fit it on the players, do the alterations that would be necessary, or decide which sizes would be needed. We do the hands-on tailoring and adjustments, and organising all of that for them. It’s challenging enough, because it might have to be done in two days or so, but it’s interesting. And we really enjoy it too!
What are your favourite aspects about working within Powerscourt Centre?
It’s quite homely in a way. Most of the businesses are individual people running niche businesses. It’s not really big brands but rather boutiques. And we all sort of know one another and look after one another, which is very nice on this side of the counter – and hopefully the customers get the same sort of feeling when they come in. Powerscourt is an interesting place to visit, especially with tourist business.
Visit Tony and Neil at Kennedy & McSharry on the Ground Floor in Powerscourt Townhouse Centre.