Walsh Brothers, Tralee

Author: Georgina Downes, Tralee Chamber Alliance

Photography: Johanna Simon, Tralee Chamber Alliance

What is it about shoes? Our childhood stories are full of them. From the old woman who lived in one to The Wizard of Oz―there’s something in our psyche that likes to venerate shoes. Makes sense; anyone who values their feet will appreciate the importance of a good shoe.  And that’s precisely what Walsh Brothers have been providing in Kerry for over 100 years;  superior-quality, stylishly-designed shoes.

Founded in 1902, the family business continues to thrive with the founder’s grandson, John Walsh, at the helm. He’s witnessed trends come and go; flats, platforms, wedges, even Wellingtons as daywear, John has seen it all, but regardless of fashion, if you want to put your best foot forward, you need a good shoe.

Kids Wellies – Tralee

That’s why generations of Kerry families bring their toddlers to Walsh Brothers for that very special rite of passage; baby’s first shoe fitting. Most will remember the experience: a tiny foot, carefully placed on the slider which stops precisely at the tip of the toe, a narrow tape gently pulled across the instep to take the width. And there it is, baby’s first recorded shoe size.

We use an i-pad now,” John says casually. Wait, what?

Kids Shoe Sizes by iPad

He demonstrates the new technology. “The foot goes here, you press this button, the child can choose their favourite colour then the measurement is sent directly to Clarks,” he says.  Very slick. “Some kids won’t put their foot on the pad,” he adds, “so we keep the traditional measurer here.” He whips one out from behind a shelf.  It’s very small and oddly reassuring.

Walsh’s has seen its share of celebrities too, counting Ryan Tubridy, John Delaney, Michael Healy Rea and Fionnula Flanagan among their list of customers. Even Father Ted has bought a pair of shoes from them. With 49 sizes in store, from 2.5  to 14, they cater for everyone. They even supply copper insoles and orthotics.


Plus, there is an array of polish, wax and cream protectors so there’s no excuse for shabby shoes.

So how many pairs does John own, I wonder? Nine, apparently: two sandals, two walking, gardening boots, two pairs of work-shoes and two casual pairs for kicking around. But John tells me his wife has in excess of 30! Nice. All I can say is Carrie Bradshaw, you married the wrong man.

If you want your shop’s Story to be told, email: georgina@tralee.flywheelsites.com

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Ladies Shoes – Tralee