In The News

Smithfield legend Joe Kavanagh passes away

Smithfield legend Joe Kavanagh passes away

TRIBUTES have been paid to Belfast businessman Joe Kavanagh who has passed away at the age of 97.

Mr. Kavanagh became a legend in the city’s Smithfield market area where he traded for 62 years under the famous slogan: “I Buy Anything” (see picture of his store).

He also declared himself to be the world’s first and only ‘buyologist’.

A visit to Smithfield market was never complete without a look in Mr. Kavanagh’s store which was a veritable Alladin’s Cave packed with the weird, wacky and wonderful. 

Over the years, his purchases included a pair of stockings which had belonged to Queen Victoria, a six-legged lamb and even a one-eyed goldfish.

But not everything he bought was with an view to turning a profit. When Belfast man James Magennis put his Victoria Cross up for sale in 1952, after hitting hard times, Joe Kavanagh purchased the medal and immediately returned it to the former submariner. He imposed only one condition on the War Hero, requesting that the medal should not be sold again during his lifetime.

Mr. Kavanagh was a founding member of the Young Philanthropists group in Belfast and when the city’s Mater Hospital was threatened with closure in the 1950s he helped raise £1m to save the complex.

Away from his business and charitable activities, Mr. Kavanagh was a keen golfer and also found time to write a number of ballads. He finally retired in 2000 at the age of 83.

Mr. Kavanagh was predeceased by wife Bernadette. He is survived by his five children.

His Funeral will take place later today (Saturday, May 24) with Requiem Mass being held at St. Gerard’s Church in Belfast. To view the full arrangements click here.

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