44. Thomas Ahern (1884-1970), merchant and draper
Thomas Ahern was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1884. After leaving the village school, Ahern was apprenticed to a draper and worked until his assisted passage to Fremantle in 1911. Employed by Brennan’s drapery at Boulder, Ahern married his fiancée Nora McGrath in Perth in 1912.
Ahern was invited to manage drapery and furniture store Roberson and Moffat’s Successors. He insisted on a controlling partnership and opened as Ahern's Ltd in 1922. The successful business grew to include suburban expansion, employing over 500 staff in 1970. Thomas Ahern’s kindness to staff was well known, and by the time of its sale to David Jones in 1999, Ahern's was the last family-owned department store chain in Australia.
Thomas Ahern accepted public offices in later life including serving as a trustee of the Karrakatta Cemetery Board from 1938-1942 and as patron of the Claremont Football Club from 1940-1969.