Singing took hold of Jimmy Crowley when he was a teenager and it hasn't lessened its grip in all the decades that followed. In his youth, while he learned the art and craft of cabinetmaking in his native Cork, he found himself drawn by Ireland's rich heritage of folklore and music that included ballads as well as comic songs. In later years he incorporated those bits of social and musical history into live performances that cast him in the role of a modern day balladeer.
At the age of 16 Crowley started collecting Ireland's songs and folklore. Cork, as well as less urban areas such as Miltown Malbay, drew his close attention. The smaller towns acquainted him with musicians such as Willie Clancy and Nicholas Toibin, and also with singers of traditional sean nos. His own repertoire varies from poignant to humorous and includes such songs as "The Holy Ground," "Clonakilty Blackpudding," "The Boys of Fairhill," "Johnny Jump Up," and "Bandon Car," among others.
Crowley is the folk singer's singer of choice. His fans include Liam Clancy, whose automobile is always furnished with one of Crowley's tapes. Martin Carthy and Mary Black are loyal Crowley devotees, as is Christy Moore.