A History of Hilliard's
The House of Hilliard, established in 1848, is synonymous with enduring quality, craftsmanship and style. For 148 years, Hilliard’s traded as a landmark department store and will have huge significance for a whole generation of people from Killarney given the major influence the Hilliard family had in the area for well over a century and a half . Hilliard’s today, as before has a family business at its core and is operated by the Sheahan Group.
The Hilliard family has been one of the truly great employers in Killarney down through the years, not only in the drapery store where the new restaurant and cocktail bar now stands but in the shoe trade which, since 1868, provided steady and appreciated work to so many people for so many years.
The ahead-of-its-time success story that was the Hilliard’s empire dates back to the remarkable business acumen of Robert, William and Richard Hilliard – three sons born to William and Elizabeth. R Hilliard and Sons on Main Street became a bustling commercial success story focusing on drapery, footwear, household, millinery, curtains and lace, furniture, souvenirs, rugs and the wonderfully titled fancy goods section and “The Stuff Department”. When Hilliard’s Sale was on, people would come from near and far and queue up from the early hours of the morning.
The striking feature original sign at the top of the building’s exterior, dating back to 1917, has been painstakingly restored by master craftsmen to ensure the business remains true to its roots at the beating heart of Killarney town. Originally commissioned by John Hilliard, it was the first Irish language façade in Killarney and the first use of the word ‘Teoranta’ on any sign of its kind on a shopfront.