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Ireland: Life in Kilrush by Joe Riley

Ireland: Life in Kilrush

by Joe Riley

394 pages
The story of Kilrush is unique, and uniquely entertaining Life in Kilrush is about the small town of Kilrush, Ireland. This book is full of humor and sincerity, a true story of a young English boy abandoned in the 1940s and 50s.

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Category: Autobiography
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About the Book
What makes Life in Kilrush so appealing is that it is not just the account of one man’s journey back to his childhood, but it is an exploration of a unique and quaint town and its distinctive inhabitants, in an era that we often wish we could return to; a more honest and straightforward time. One would almost mistake it for a simpler time, but this story defies that simplification. Joe Riley’s memoir resonates with many of us who wish we could understand what events and people in our life shaped us and affected our emotional life.

English born Joe Riley recounts his extraordinary childhood in a small town on the rugged West coast of Ireland, where he was abandoned by his abusive father at the age of four and raised by a loving older couple and their children.

Emotionally unsettled for most of Joe Riley’s adulthood, Joe feels inspired to revisit his childhood and write a memoir “Life in Kilrush… give the family immortality and …somewhere in this process …just might find himself along the way.”

One day Auntie May and the family discovers the welts and bruises on Joe’s back (“oh you poor crater”) the situation became permanent. On the rare occasions his father tried to reconnect, Auntie May made sure Joe was “too sick” to comply. The attempts soon stopped altogether.

Thus begins Joe’s extraordinary transition from a young Protestant English boy with a “Geordie” accent into the unofficially adopted member of this loving Irish Catholic family, the Deloughery’s. Thus begins Joe’s journey as a member of the Deloughery family, and the introduction to a cast of characters and experiences unique to Ireland’s west coast. Ireland’s emergence as independent nation, combined with the end of WW II, finds in Kilrush, an inviting and vibrant place with a genuine personality of its own.

I was an English boy and a protestant in a small catholic town out on the west coast of Ireland. As you can imagine this young English lad was not about to have an easy time because of the memories of English atrocities by the British Army of Black and Tans.

Joe begins his education at the Christian Brothers School and soon finds himself an unexpected outcast. With his “Geordie” English accent and the fact he’s the only Protestant in this overwhelmingly Catholic environment, Joe learns quickly to fight and defend himself from his bullying schoolmates. Unfortunately, he has little defense against the renowned physical abuse of the Brothers and he suffers the worst beatings with the black leather strap from Brother Walsh, a vindictive priest who singles Joe out early on. This abuse is interspersed throughout Joe’s school memories and we learn the difference between the cruel abusers and the few, more supportive, priests.

Then we have the bright side, the wonderful characters of those days, funny people and very talented. The people believed in God almighty, their lives were ruled by the church from birth to the grave. Life in the 40/50s were harsh, very little employment in the town. No one got divorced, there was no midwife for pregnancy. No electricity at our end of town until 1952. We were a community who cared for each other.

I ran away from Kilrush to my English home, I now found myself in an environment that was totally alien to all the beliefs that I was brought up with. Aa a teenager I was to discover I had four sisters and three brothers. I arrived at a situation that I was not equipped to deal with.

I hope you enjoy the true story of a young boy.

In the end, Joe has his dark night of soul experience, We cry for the story of a little boy who was basically abandoned by his father and a family far away. We cry because we understand that Joe will always be a “man divided” with an unending question of identity.


I have read the "Life in Kilrush" by Joe Riley. This is one of the best local books I have ever read. We here at Paddy's haven are passionate that when you understand "the strength and life of West Clare and our coastal heritage"....Respect! Note....must add this book to my collection. Unreal book.....wish it was more available.
- Gillian Molohan



About the Author
Joe Riley Born in an industrial town in the northeast of England 1942 during World War II, Commenced nursing career 1963, Cardiff University / Cardiff University. Degree in Education, Psychology, Anatomy, Physiology Degree.

1976 Honors Grade: Activities and Societies: Artist. Football. Golf. International painter.

Former Director of Nursing and Director of Education.

International Motivational speaker, Author of 5 books, invited by the Chinese Gov in 2004 at the International Banking Fed, Beijing as a keynote speaker.

Member and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, Philippines. retired CEO of international recruitment company, now retired in the Philippines.



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