The Irish Times
Published March 28th, 2008
Writers and artists at Kennys' bookshop founder's funeral
Writers, academics and representatives of Galway's arts community attended the funeral yesterday of bookseller Maureen Kenny who died earlier this week in her 90th year.
The Mayor of Galway, Cllr Tom Costello (Lab), and former minister and Progressive Democrats founder Bobby Molloy were among several hundred people present in the city's Augustinian Church for the funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Fr Dick Lyng.
Ms Kenny, a native of Mohill, Co Leitrim, founded Kennys' Bookshop in Galway in 1940 with her late husband, Des. His father had been a local journalist and founder of the Connacht Tribune.
The couple met as students at University College Galway (now NUI Galway), and their bookselling business - which began as a private lending library - was to earn an international reputation, specialising in rare and antiquarian publications. The bookshop and art gallery have hosted many artistic and literary events in Galway over the years, and Ms Kenny became a personal friend of leading writers, such as the late John McGahern, Brendan Behan, and Edna O'Brien. Many customers from all over Ireland attended yesterday's service.
Mourners heard how in latter years Ms Kenny took on the responsibility of chasing up particular requests by customers. The "wants book" compiled by her was one of several offertory gifts - along with a photograph of her mother's pub, Cannings, in Mohill, Co Leitrim, the first photograph of herself and her late husband, and an extended family photograph taken on her 80th birthday.
On her retirement, Ms Kenny noted that some of her most memorable moments included watching her children and grandchildren going into the business, opening the first art gallery in the west with an exhibition by Seán Keating, receiving visits from writers like Brendan Behan and launching Breandán Ó hEithir's classic, Over the Bar, live on radio.
Among concelebrants at the funeral service were Ms Kenny's nephews, Fr Walter Macken and Fr John O'Brien.
A guard of honour was formed by 16 of her grandchildren, and she was buried in Bohermore cemetery. She is survived by her children, Tom, Jane (Hogan), Dessie, Gerry, Monica (Rigney) and Conor, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Labour Party president and former arts minister Michael D Higgins yesterday spoke of her "institutional presence" in the artistic life of Galway, and the "wonderful gift" that she had left in terms of her family's continued involvement in bookselling on the internet, bookbinding and art. The business had been one of the first of its type to start selling books online, and transferred most of its book sales onto the internet over two years ago.
Mr Higgins recalled her kindness and generosity to students who didn't have much income, and her close relationship with writers who chose to launch their books on her premises.
Reproduced with the kind permission of The Irish Times