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Leinster Leader, 6 September 1980

The Late Mr. Samuel Shaw, Athy

A man who played a vital role in building the House of Shaw into the largest commercial group of its kind died last week at his residence at Cardenton, Athy, aged over 90 years. He was Mr. Samuel Victor Shaw, native of Mountmellick.
The commercial empire he left behind started in Mountmellick about 1864, when his father, Henry Shaw, set up a successful little drapery. Henry’s widow took over in the 1890s, and with the help of her children opened in Portlaoise a large general drapery and footware store as an extension of the business. Her son William, managed the new premises.
In 1902 a slim fair-haired boy arrived in Athy to serve his time to drapery at the Duke St. establishment of John A. Duncan. His name: Samuel V. Shaw. His hours were long, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and for his labours he received 2/6 (12 1/2p) a month pocket money. When he had completed his apprenticeship his mother sent him to London to learn tailoring. Before he left he urged her and his brother, William, to buy Duncan’s business if it went up for sale. In 1914 a telegram he received in London from his mother summoned him home; Duncan’s premises had come on the market, and had passed into the ownership of the Shaw family.
On his return to Ireland he entered into the family business, and when his brother, William died in 1929 took over the running of the Athy branch. Under his guidance, Shaws acquired a second premises in Duke Street and entered into the hardware/furniture business. A further development in the Shaw family was in 1934 when the firm was registered as a limited private company, Shaw & Sons, and he became its managing director. His mother had died some years previously.
Under his skilful management the firm grew very much larger. It acquired the Waterford City concern, Robinson, Ledley & Ferguson, in 1940 opened a branch in Carlow in 1949, and took over the big Gaze & Jessops business in Portlaoise in 1954, and developed it further as a general hardware, farm and machinery and furniture business. His next venture on behalf of the Shaw group was to open a branch in Roscrea in 1964, and in the last decade extended their activities by opening a branch in Ballymun. Actively engaged with him in the group extensions in recent years were his sons, Billy, Mervyn and Trevor. Up to the time of his death last week, he continued to act as the group’s chief executive and signed the bulk of the cheques.
The late Mr. Shaw had many qualities that contributed to his tremendous success as a business magnate. These included a spirit of enterprise, a quiet tenacity, a feeling for the exact requirement of the customers, and a capacity to ensure that these requirements were met with civility and at attractive prices. Everybody who had dealings with him found him to be a charming, affable man of extraordinarily even temperament, and possessed of a delightful sense of humour. He tool pleasure in meeting customers on the shop floor and exchanging a few friendly words.
Outside of the group responsibilities he found relaxation and exercise in attending to his farm and in tending his garden. For years he was a prominent exhibitor of pure bread Hereford cattle at the RDS Show, and won many major awards, including the championship of the Show. A first class gardener, he took pride in his produce; vegetables and flowers. To him the simple things in life mattered greatly. He stood very high in the community, a man for whom there was deep admiration and respect, and a great deal of affections,. He is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons, Billy, Mervyn and Trevor, and daughters Mrs. Betty Kelso and Miss Rosaleen Shaw. After Burial Service in Athy Methodist Church, he was interred in the family plot in Rosnalls Cemetery, Laois.

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