About us ...

Website host Joe Mc Gowan in pre-internet days

Website host, Joe Mc Gowan is a local historian and native of Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo. Born on the family farm, he worked there in his early years until emigrating to the U.S.A. in the ‘60s.

Drafted into the U.S. Army ten months after arriving in Yorktown Hgts., N.Y., he underwent infantry training in Fort Dix, New Jersey. On graduation he was stationed with the 87th Engineer Bn. in Fort Belvoir, Virginia where he served during President Kennedy’s stand-off with the Russians, known as the ‘Cuban Crisis’. The balance of active service was with the 557 Quartermaster Co. on Evreux-Fauville airbase in France. This being the period of the Vietnam conflict, the 557 th’s mission, composed mostly of 82nd and 101st Airborne troops, was to deliver supplies and personnel to the combat zone.

Following discharge from the Army, Joe lived and worked in the U.S. in commercial and residential construction for many years. Marrying, he returned to Ireland with his wife and young family in the late ‘70s. The ‘Celtic Tiger’ was not yet born, scarcity of work dictated a career change, so Joe took up salmon and lobster fishing off the Sligo coast aboard his half-decker fishing boat the ‘Connaught Ranger’. Retaining his interest in the sea, he and Keith Clarke now conduct boat trips to Inishmurray aboard mv ‘Excalibur’.

In US Army (six months later)

Shortly after his return to Ireland, Joe Mc Gowan, becoming keenly aware of the accelerating pace of change in the Irish countryside, decided to record the old lore before it vanished completely. Since that time he has been dedicated to preserving, visually and orally, Ireland ’s disappearing traditions and customs. Now a full-time writer his books, backed by meticulous archival research, are inspired by countless nights spent visiting the older generation and listening to their tales. His short stories, usually cameos of Irish life both past and present, feature frequently in national magazines and on radio. He is also a Heritage Specialist with the Irish National Teachers Organisation ‘Heritage in Schools Scheme’.

His publications include the classic In the Shadow of Benbulben; Echoes of a Savage Land; Constance Markievicz, the People’s Countess; Co. Sligo Famine Book; Inishmurray, Gale, Stone and Fire; Island Voices, and most recently, co-authored with artist Anne Osborne: Sligo, Land of Destiny.

The days of the fireside story-tellers are gone, but their stories and lore, happily, live on in Joe Mc Gowan’s books, and now, on this website.

website copyright Joe McGowan 2005. design: mangiare