Small Business Owner's Day - The Inspiration Behind Biddy Murphy

by Ward Gahan
3 Comment(s)
Small Business Owner's Day - The Inspiration Behind Biddy Murphy

Small businesses are everywhere, in each industry across the world. According to, about 534,000 new businesses are started every month, showing that living out the dream of being your boss is highly competitive and not quite as easy as it seems. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and need your support now, more than ever.

Biddy Murphy started as one of my crazy ideas (I’m known for having my brain going in a thousand different directions!) after I kept seeing a couple of patterns play out: 1) I didn’t like how my Motherland, the Emerald Isle, was being portrayed in cheap products made in China and 2) Every time I went back to see my family in Co. Tipperary, Ireland my buddies from the states would ask “Hey Ward, can you get me one of those…” I knew I could do better than what I saw in the mail order catalogs. So in 2004, here I am, a guy with two small kids. I did what every engineer with a good paying job would do, I quit my job to open up an Irish gift store in the tiny town of South Haven, along the shores of Lake Michigan. Genius, right?

This could be a long story about our timeline and such, but I’ll try my best to stick to a few important ideas about our small business that have to do with those key points I mentioned earlier. First, I was getting the usual mail order catalogs and it unnerved me to see all of these cheap, Irish gifts made in China with a shamrock slapped on them. That’s not Irish! I knew from growing up there and my more recent trips that there were more unique, premium, products available from some very skilled artisans in most villages in Ireland. They were creating unique crafts that were being made with traditional techniques, skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. I wanted to build relationships with these people who were committed to crafting high quality, authentic Irish goods and gifts, in the ways that it has been done for centuries. I think of the intricate weaving that is done by Andrew Eadie and his family at Kerry Woolen Mills in Co. Kerry. Andrew took the helm from his parents and when we visited him in January, we got to visit with his wife Yvonne in the shop and see their son working on a mechanical loom. And because I told you about my wandering mind, I also think about Patricia O'Flaherty of Naomh Padraig, this amazing little lady who nearly stands 5 foot tall, who’s out in the wetlands hand cutting rushes to craft our St. Brigid’s Crosses. Then the smile of John Condron of Fado, the maker of fine jewelry that my wife LOVES, pops into my head. There are too many to mention them all, but you get the picture. I wanted people across the world to know about and easily experience these artisans, their unique crafts and premium Irish goods and gifts. We wanted to bring the best of Ireland to the rest of the world!

Maker Partners

Because small business ownership isn’t easy, there had to be more than a desire to showcase these exceptional Irish people and their products. We needed to be different from those “Plastic Paddys” selling the cheap stuff that makes me cringe. That’s where my Irish family upbringing came into play. Naming the company after my Mom, Brigid “Biddy” Murphy, I wanted to make her proud. I want customers to experience the familial Irish spirit that I knew growing up. Not only would we offer premium Irish goods, but we’d make sure that customers would have a premium Irish experience as well. That’s why we offer our “Delight or Make it Right” Guarantee. We promise that you’ll be delighted with everything you purchase from Biddy Murphy or we’ll make it right with a free exchange or return. We want to make it simple to do business with us.

We have a small, dedicated team at Biddy Murphy that is anxious to serve our customers. You’ll see my daughter, Elizabeth, in some of our photos (although she’s gainfully employed elsewhere, we “contract” her services from time to time) and you may have chatted with Annette about an order you placed. There are also a few others behind the scenes who are passionate about our little business. And don’t be surprised if I’m the one answering your call or responding to your email. (I’ve also been known to send out a handful of postcards to customers when I’m in Ireland.) I absolutely love the customer experience aspect of the business. Because I may go off on a tangent with a story or three, the team tries to keep me focused on other issues, but I find great value in talking with our customers. I’m always excited when I get a note from someone who took the time to let us know that they loved their product from Biddy Murphy. It reinforces my decision to take the leap into small business ownership.

Some times are tougher than others but we are consistently inspired by our purpose: Sharing the joy of Ireland through authentic goods, gifts and experiences. We are real Irish people bringing you real Irish goods and gifts. Because we keep our products stocked in a warehouse in the Midwest, United States, we offer FREE shipping on everything and you’ll typically see your order at your door within 2-4 days. We are confident that we’ll pull through this current situation and appreciate what you can do to support small business, today and every day.

Thank you for celebrating #SmallBusinessOwners day with us!

Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) and sláinte (to your health), 


CEO - Chief Experience Officer

Ward Kerry Woolen Mills

by Ward Gahan


Doug Dietz
Doug Dietz

Love the products and the customer service. Miss wetting my whistle when visiting the shop.
Thanks for bringing quality Irish goods to our lives.


Shelley Hanson
Shelley Hanson

Love that you’re sharing with us your history and what you know and love. To many more years of success!

Jamo McDermott
Jamo McDermott

Thanks for sharing the story about starting your company. You have some crafty friends!

Do you have any Irish hand sanitizer in stock?

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