IT IS the end of an era in Limerick, as one of the city’s most well-known jewellers and businessmen, JJ Kenneally has passed away this weekend.
JJ, aged 88, who ran his popular jewellers on Wickham Street for 59 successful years, died at Milford Care Centre this Saturday morning.
Paying to tribute to JJ, well-known tattoo artist Ross Nagle, of All-Star Tattoo, said he will be missed by everyone on Wickham Street,
“Mr Kenneally has been my landlord for over 10 years. In that time, I grew so fond of him. To me, he is exactly what men should strive to be. Hard-working, dedicated family man that treated every every walk of life with equal respect.
“Always smiling and always a gentleman. He will be personally missed by me and the guys and hugely missed by all of Wickham Street,” he told the Limerick Leader.
The Corbally man spent seven years learning the trade of a watchmaker after leaving Parteen National School at age 14, mentored by Paddy Griffin “one of the best watchmakers in town”.
JJ – husband to Carmel and father-of-four – worked in Cromers Jewellers on O’Connell Street until 1959, which was owned by a Mr Evans, for whom JJ’s father Maurice did gardening jobs.
It wasn’t long after that when JJ set up his famous store on Wickham Street in 1959, at age 29.
He married his wife Carmel in 1964. Together they had four children, Olive, Robbie, Clive and Fergus.
His well-known store was a sponsor of many sporting tournaments, including the well-known Corbally Swim.
A dedicated community man, JJ was a former Fairview Rangers president, former president of St Patrick’s GAA, boxed with the defunct St John’s boxing club, and founder of Limerick Cycling Road Club.
In the mid-1980s, the store grabbed headlines when JJ was a victim of two heinous crimes.
He was shot twice in 1986 following a raid at the store in which IR£100,000 worth of diamonds were taken. It is understood bullet holes still remain at the premises – a reminder of how lucky JJ was to survive the attack.
In 1985, JJ was held hostage by an armed gang of five, who were looking to raid his shop and eventually “cleared the house”, he said in an interview in 2010.
JJ was loved by members of the business community and was known for his morning cycles to work.
And one of his greatest joys in life was going home to his wife Carmel’s home-cooking.
“I dislike intensely going out for food – I get such great food at home. I grow all my own veg. I would live in my garden – cabbage, turnip, carrots, parsnips – there is none of your burgers there. I love good, plain, honest-to-God Irish food cooked by Mrs K,” he said in a 2010 interview.
JJ is brother of the late Paddy, Kevin & Delores. Very deeply regretted by his loving wife Carmel, daughter Olive, sons Fergus, Clive & Robbie, daughters in law Sheila, Shirley & Michelle, grandchildren Stuart, Zara,Ruth,Drew, Robyn, Grace & Robert, great grandchildren Kaiden & Harry, sisters Imelda & Agnes, brothers in law, nephews, nieces other relatives & friends.
JJ is reposing at Milford Care Centre on Monday (23rd April) from 5.00pm with removal at 7.00pm to St Mary's Church. Requiem Mass Tuesday (24th April) at 11.00am in St Mary's Church, with cremation afterwards in Shannon Crematorium. Family flowers only please, donations if desired in lieu of flowers to Milford Care Centre.