Irish Heartland Tours


Ireland has a rich natural, cultural and built heritage with a long and complex history since man first set foot here. This seven-day personalised guided tour will take you through some of the most interesting and scenic landscapes to visit the best surviving ancient sites from the country’s amazing history. These sites, located mainly along the west coast of Ireland, will be accurately interpreted and presentations will be given on a number of historical topics during the course of your tour.

As a result of the Great Famine of the nineteenth century Ireland lost one quarter of its population to starvation and emigration. In addition, Irish customs, dress, language, music and dance were pushed to the more rugged but scenic lands of the west coast where Irish culture continues to flourish and the Irish language is still spoken. Your tour visits some wonderful towns and villages that have outstanding restaurants and pubs, many of which provide traditional Irish music sessions at night. You will even have the chance to learn a few words of the Gaelic tongue. You will spend each night of your trip in one of these villages or towns. During the tour you are welcome to stop and take photographs or to interact with locals you meet along the way.

This is a family owned and operated tour company. My research and local history publications combined with the experience gained while tour guiding in this region for over eighteen years ensures that you are guaranteed a high quality and enjoyable trip of a lifetime.

While your tour can be customised where possible to facilitate your specific need, the standard tour is as follows;

Day One – We take a tour of Bunratty Folk Park and then onto the Franciscan Abbey at Quin. We also visit the restored pre-historic dwellings at Craggaunowen and examine aspects of the rural landscape of County Clare.

Day Two – We proceed eastwards towards the market town of Portumna in County Galway, travelling along the scenic shores of Lough Derg, the largest of the three lakes on the river Shannon. In Portumna you will visit a restored 19th century workhouse where an interpretation of the Great Irish Famine will be provided as part of a guided tour. This will be followed by a visit to the 17th century Portumna Castle, home to the powerful Earls of Clanricarde. A tour of the town is also included.

Day Three - On leaving Portumna we visit Pallas Castle, a 15th century towerhouse, and then examine a well-preserved ringfort before heading via a scenic route to the town of Gort. Close to the town is Coole Park, the former residence of the landlord William Gregory and his wife Lady Augusta Gregory, the famed Irish dramatist folklorist and founder of the Irish Literary Theatre and Abbey Theatre.

Day Four - The day begins with a trip to the early Christian settlement at Kilmacduagh before spending some time exploring the world-renowned karst limestone landscape of the Burren. Its unique flora and fauna combined with a range of historic sites and quaint villages should be of interest to visitors. We then head to our overnight destination in Lisdoonvarna, noted worldwide for its ‘Matchmaking Festival’ and get the opportunity to enjoy the best of traditional Irish music in the village of Doolin.

Day Five – We proceed to the Cliffs of Moher, Europe’s highest vertical cliffs, and then take a leisurely drive along the eastern shores of Galway Bay to the fishing villages of Ballyvaughan and Kinvara, with its restored 16th century towerhouse, Dunguaire Castle, which is open to visitors.

Day Six – We pay a short visit to Galway City before heading west to explore the beautiful scenery associated with the rugged landscape of Connemara. Our overnight stay will be in Clifden, a market town built by the landlord John Darcy in the early years of the 19th century. From there we travel to Kylemore Abbey and its restored Victorian walled garden.

Day Seven - The tour ends with a return to Galway City, a walled town founded in 1232 by fourteen Norman tribes and now widely regarded as the cultural capital of Ireland. St Nicholas Church, Galway Cathedral, Lynch’s Castle on Shop Street, Spanish Arch, the Salmon Weir Bridge and the Courthouse are significant historical structures while the flags of the founding tribes adorn the northern side of Eyre Square. You are also afforded the opportunity to do some shopping.


Cycle Holidays Ireland

Visit Portumna

Irish Workhouse Centre

Customers Say



“We had the honor and delight to be accompanied by John Joe as we toured the beautiful west of Ireland. John Joe's knowledge is amazing, but it's the way in which he shares it that sets him apart. As he answer questions and provides information, the love and passion he has for his heritage is palpable. Add in his dry brilliant wit, and you're not only been immersed in history, but in the warmth and friendship of one particularly delightful Irish fellow. Highly recommend.”

Anna Nogueiro

“We had a wonderful experience while visiting Ireland for the first time in 2018. Almost every stone in the countryside seems to have a story associated with it and we were fortune to have John Joe as our guide to bring these stories to life. John Joe epitomises the essence of good guiding in that he communicates in a clear, eloquent and engaging manner and has a thorough grasp of the country’s long, protracted and complex history. He customised the tour to suit our every need and his easygoing and patient style makes it possible for the first-time visitor to begin to understand this beautiful country’s remarkable story. I hope many others get to visit this remarkable place and be guided by an even more remarkable teacher.”

Jonathan Cuomo - Queens, New York

“If you are anything like me, you often stumble upon your next vacation destination by watching a rom-com or two. Enter: "P.S. I love you". If you're Irish, you might've just cringed so hard that your face hurts, but if you're a red-blooded American female, you get it! Before embarking on my journey to The Emerald Isle, I expected to see beautiful sights and drink lots of Guinness...both happened of course, but I didn't expect to come away with such an understanding of the rich history of Ireland! John Joe is a phenomenal historian and truly is able to tell you about EVERYTHING. Landmarks: DONE. Castles: get outta here. Churches: DUH. Stones: OF COURSE! The man is an encyclopedia and it was such a pleasure to be able to be part of his journey. 10/10, would book a tour with him again!”

Sierra Durfree - Portland Oregon