History & Heritage course Ballinrobe


By John Joe Conwell & Averil Staunton

Marie Boran has been Special Collections Librarian at the James Hardiman Library, National University of Ireland (NUIG) Galway for over twenty years. Her research interests include Irish family and local studies, the history of Landed estates in Ireland and the promotion of the use of genealogical resources in wider historical research. Marie was one of the researchers who developed the Irish Landed Estates database, www.landedestates.ie.  She is currently studying for an MSc in Genealogical and Heraldic studies with Strathclyde University.

Brigid Clesham is a professionally qualified archivist, who has worked in the National Library of Ireland, the James Hardiman Library, NUI, Galway and the Diocesan Archives, Tuam.  Her research interests include genealogy, local history, church and landed estate records. She was one of the researchers for the landed estates database compiled in the Moore Institute, NUI, Galway. She edited the Register of the Parish of St Nicholas Galway 1792-1840 (2004) and her forthcoming book is entitled George MacNemara of Cong: Folklore & Facts, 1722-1760. 

John Joe Conwell, a physics graduate of University College Galway, is a retired science and maths secondary school teacher. He holds a Master’s degree in local history from NUI Maynooth and his thesis on the 14th Earl of Clanricarde during the Great Famine was published by that university in 2002. John Joe has written a number of local histories including his most recent work Portumna A Galway parish by the Shannon. He is a founding member of South East Galway Archaeological and Historical Society and he lectures on the University of Limerick local history Certificate Course run in the Irish Workhouse Centre, Portumna.

Gerard Delaney holds a Certificate in Local and Family History from NUI Maynooth. He is the coordinator of South Mayo Family Research Centre and is vice-chairman of the Irish Family History Foundation. He has spent over thirty years compiling genealogical sources, researching south Mayo families and studying the history of Co. Mayo in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.  In addition he has published articles of historical interest in local newspapers and publications as well as on the web. Gerard has given night classes on researching family and local history and has also spoken at genealogical conferences in Boston and London.

Stephen Dolan, Loughrea-born historian, holds an MBA from NUIG and an MA in local history from University of Limerick. He has lectured in history and heritage and has contributed articles to several local history journals. He is currently the CEO of the Galway Rural Development Company.

Chris Huxley is a biologist, ecologist and conservationist and has lived in County Mayo for twenty years. He has worked internationally for many wildlife organisations, governments and intergovernmental agencies. He has also lectured in ecology and conservation at GMIT in Castlebar and at TCD. Chris has carried out a long-term study of the fauna and flora of Lough Carra and the surrounding area which led to the publication with his wife Lynda of the 2015 book, Lough Carra. He has also studied the wildlife of many other parts of Mayo, especially the wild orchids, butterflies and birds. 

Lynda Huxley has been working on conservation measures for the swift, an amber listed bird of conservation concern, throughout Ireland but especially on several ground-breaking building projects in County Mayo where nest boxes for swifts have been incorporated into the fabric of new buildings.  She is a freelance photographer and publishes an annual wall calendar of Mayo landscapes and greetings cards of native fauna and flora.

Dr John Mulloy lectures in Art History and Social Care on the Mayo campus of GMIT. He has researched art education in Ireland in formal and informal settings, including work for the Irish Prison Service, and has contributed a chapter to Gary Granville (ed.) (2012), Art Education and Contemporary Culture. Bristol: Intellect. His background is in community arts and community development work, working in those areas as a practitioner for many years, before moving into teaching and research.


Dr Yvonne McDermott lectures on the History and Geography programme in GMIT Mayo where she teaches history, archaeology and folklore. She completed her PhD in the area of medieval archaeology and has published a number of journal articles and book chapters on the mendicant friaries of late medieval Ireland.

Dr Marion McGarry is an art historian and independent researcher. She is the author of a number of books including The Irish Cottage (2017) and Irish Customs and Rituals (2020). She lectures at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, where she is a member of the GMIT Heritage Research Group. 

Bernard O’Hara is a former lecturer, Head of School, and Registrar of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT).  In addition to books on entrepreneurship and education, he has written widely on various aspects of the history and heritage of County Mayo. His publications focus on Michael Davitt, his native parish of Killasser and on County Mayo in general. His most recent publicationExploring Mayo is a lavishly illustrated book, which provides a wonderful appreciation of county’s rich archaeological, historical, religious and architectural heritage as well as a guide to the attractions of its various regions.

Dr Liam Ó’hAisibéil lectures in Irish and Celtic Civilisation in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at NUIG. He was previously employed at the University of Limerick; as an Ireland-Canada University Foundation Tutor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada; and as a Lecturer in Irish at St. Angela's College, Sligo. He has spent periods of research with the Locus Project at University College, Cork, as a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University, England, and as a Visiting Researcher at the University of Glasgow. He was a researcher on Irish surnames for the lexicographic project ‘Family Names of Britain and Ireland’ at the University of the West of England, Bristol from 2013-2016, and is a co-author of the forthcoming Dictionary of Family Names of Ireland, to be published by Oxford University Press.

James Scully is a native of Tullamore, County Offaly and has been involved with the Offaly Historical Society for the past fifty years. His particular interests are the Grand Canal in County Offaly, Napoleonic fortifications on the River Shannon and Banagher’s Literary Associations, especially Anthony Trollope and Charlotte Brontë. He has written two books: Looking Around, a textbook for schools on Local Studies in West Offaly and Forgotten Souls, the Memorials in Saint Rynagh’s Old Graveyard, Banagher, County Offaly. Presently he is researching the story of the building of the bridge of Banagher, 1841-43.

Averil Staunton, a local historian and author, holds a Master’s degree in Arts (Heritage and Tourism), a degree in Irish Archaeology along with an honours degree in Art & Design. She was the founder member of the Ballinrobe Archaeological & Historical Society and is webmaster of the popular http://www.historicalballinrobe.com/website. She is author of Ballinrobe – Aspects of a Visual History and Harry Clarke’s Liquid Light – Stained Glass Windows of St. Mary’s Church, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo. Her new publications on Ballinrobe Workhouse 1842 to 1850 and another on The Earl Grey Orphans of Ballinrobe are due for printing shortly.

Maureen Walsh holds a degree in Irish and History from University College Galway. She taught in the Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew, later becoming its principal. Since her retirement from that position she has completed the UL Local Certificate Course in Portumna and is currently undertaking a Master’s degree in Local History in UL.


Course duration

The course will be delivered during the autumn of 2020 and the spring of 2021. The three-hour sessions take place on Monday evenings with the first of these scheduled to begin on Oct 5 at 7.00 pm in the Maple Youth Centre, Ballinrobe (close to the Cornmarket with free parking).


For further details and to book a place on the course contact

John Joe Conwell on 087 2963803 (email johnjoeconwell@gmail.com)

or Averil Staunton on 0872655444 (email ballinrobelocalhistory@gmail.com)


NB Social distancing and any other Covid 19 prevention protocols will be in operation and adhered to during the course.


This page was added by Averil Staunton on 06/08/2020.