Your tour guide, John Joe Conwell holds a Masters degree in local history from the National University of Ireland and his thesis on the 14th Earl of Clanricarde during the Great Famine was published by NUI Maynooth in 2002. He has since written a number of local histories including his latest book, Portumna A Galway parish by the Shannon and specialises in the study of landed estates and the Big Houses of the landed gentry.More Information
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.More Information
“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.”
“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.”
“This August, my wife, her two sisters and we three husbands went on a 7-day trip through south-western Ireland under the care of John Joseph Conwell. This was the best holiday trip we have taken in the many countries we have visited over several decades. By far, the best part of our experience was the historical narratives by John Joseph throughout each of our days when he would share some of his vast expertise with us. The enrichment he provided enhanced the experience, adding colour and background to the castles, churches and other historical places we visited. It was pure joy listening as he shared a wealth of information of the centuries of folklore, historical figures, their governments, and the buildings that still exist today, that he has stored away somewhere under a floppy head of hair. As vast as the encyclopaedic volume of famous people and events were, the best was his unrivalled account of the common people, those lost to the history books which favour the more important figures, and his mastery of local history. He gave us an in-depth and thorough understanding of what life was like over many centuries, at all levels of society, from peasantry up through tenant farmers, landlords and the royalty. I most appreciated his detailed explanation of the tragedy of the famines of 1845-1852 and the one a hundred years earlier. This history lesson was pure enjoyment. Because of his delivery, personality and mastery of the Irish heritage, I am coming back in spring of 2021 to enjoy another week with him learning more about Ireland’s past. I am looking forward to what will surely be a wonderful experience. A history lesson with a smile.”
The book of almost 900 pages documents the parish of Portumna's history since man first set foot in that part of Ireland. It examines the first settlers in the area and the significance of Lough Derg, the River Shannon as a highway through medieval Ireland as well as the recreational use of the river today.More Information
2013 marked the centenary anniversary of the founding of Portumna Golf Club and to mark the occasion the Club engaged the services of local historian, John Joe Conwell, to compile a comprehensive history of the Club since its foundation. His book details the prime movers in establishing the Golf Club at Portumna and documents the principal developments in the Club since golf was first played on lands rented from a number of local farmers who were tenants of the Earl of Harewood, the new owner of the Clanricarde demesne.More Information
On a bitterly cold St. Patrick's Day in 2006, Portumna's hurlers captured the All-Ireland senior hurling club title by beating well-fancied Newtownshandrum of Cork in the final at Croke Park. In doing so Portumna became the fifth Galway club to lift the Tommy Moore Cup. They went on to win the trophy on three further occasions and in doing so Portumna marked itself out as one of great club teams in County Galway and in the country.More Information