Fáilte brings Emerald Isle to Lexington


Senior Journalism major Claire Johnson works behind the counter of F·ilte, a local store specializing in food and other items from Ireland and Scotland. It is located on North Upper Street in Lexington. 

Alicia Valdez

Dublin native Liza Hendley Betz opened Fáilte in December 2001, after moving to Lexington in 1996. “Fáilte,” pronounced (FAWL-cha), means ‘welcome’ in the Irish Goidelic language. Much like Kentucky, Ireland is known for rolling hills and vales of green, which is how the country earned the term ‘Emerald Isle.’ 

Hendley Betz had worked at McCarthy’s Irish Bar for five years when she opened Fáilte. She heard numerous people say they wished there was an Irish store nearby, giving her the idea to open a store of her own. Now, next door to McCarthy’s Bar on South Upper Street, Fáilte has been Lexington’s number one stop for Irish treats and goods for over 15 years. 

Among these goods are an array of Irish and Scottish food, jewelry, clothing, soaps and various other products. Fáilte’s number one seller for over 15 years has been their hot and ready sausages. 

“Our sausage is superior to American sausage,” Hendley Betz said. 

There is a big population of Irish in Kentucky, but Hendley Betz said she seeks to attract individuals from all over the world. 

“I feel like our store is a hidden gem. We do a lot with the community and have a good bit of culture,” Hendley Betz said. “Customers with all different ethnic backgrounds come into the store. We have lots of customers from England, Europe, Scotland and Wales, to mention a few, not just Irish people. We also have a lovely group of Kenyans that come in for sausages. People miss their food and we have it here.”

Fáilte prides itself on being more than just an Irish grocery store, but a place that is involved with supporting and expanding the local Irish community in Lexington. Every March, Fáilte assists in organizing Lexington’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival. In 2002, Hendley Betz started the Lexington Celtic Association, an organization for anyone who enjoys Celtic music, culture and lore.  

“We are not just a shop; that’s what is so special about small businesses,” Hendley Betz said. “We do a lot for the community. We help sponsor a night at McCarthy’s the first Thursday of the month; there is a band and Irish dancers. It’s fun and free. We also send a Kentucky girl to Ireland to represent Kentucky in the Rose of Tralee. This year, a UK student is going over to represent Kentucky,” Hendley Betz said.