The Irish in America

Ireland Reaching Out, Portumna Workhouse, and a Family Reunion


Journalist Loretto Leary has written several articles, as well as conducted interviews, about the Portuma workhouse in South East Galway and posted them on her website Breise! Breise! (Extra! Extra!).  We have heard quite a bit about the South East Galway region recently for its participation in the Week of Welcomes, the pilot program of Ireland Reaching Out.  Local Portumna historian John Joe Conwell ties the workhouse, emigration, and the Ireland Reaching Out initiative together very nicely in Part 2 of the Irish Workhouse Center video (which appears midway down the page.)

Ursula Marmion is the project head of the Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna.  It is an exciting and ambitious project to conserve the buildings, establish a visitor’s center, and tackle future redevelopment.  Ms. Marmion shares her thoughts in Part 1 and Part 2 of Irish Workhouse Center.  Videos and articles can be found on Loretto Leary’s site.  When you are finished with the Irish Workhouse information, take a spin around the rest of her insightful blog.  Thanks to Noreen Bowden (@noreenbowden) who introduced me to Loretto’s blog via a tweet yesterday.  Click here for a few photos of the Portumna workhouse.

More than simply a family reunion, the Irish Times calls the meeting of over 300 members of the McNamara clan in Loughrea, Galway the McNamara Festival!  This ambitious endeavor was inspired by the Ireland Reaching Out program, now perhaps it will inspire you to plan your own family reunion.  I am more than happy to help spread the word and help track down American relatives.  Leave a comment if you have ever considered organizing an Irish family reunion.


Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

5 thoughts on “Ireland Reaching Out, Portumna Workhouse, and a Family Reunion

  1. Hi Aine,
    Thanks for promoting my blog on your own website. Wishing you a very happy 2012. Slainte!

  2. I am interested in any information about the Hannon’s of Portumna. In particular, Brian Anthony Hannon. He lived on…St Joseph’s Road .He was one of 11children . He was born 18th of August 1932 and died 7th of October 2008. He lived most of his life in Sydney, Australia. I am his daughter and would like to know what life was like in the 1930’s in Portumna etc.. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    • My great-grandmother was a Hannon from Connemara, who came to the US in the late 1800s. That is probably just a coincidence, but I thought I would let you know! My dad has done a bunch of geneaology, so I am forwarding your comment on to him, just in case.

      I would think that the IRO website might be able to link you to people who know about life in Portumna. This link will bring you directly to the Portumna Parish section and you can “Join Parish” …the folks at Ireland Reaching Out will be thrilled to hear from you as a member of the diaspora they are trying to reach.

      In the video I posted about the Portumna workhouse, the local historian John Joe is featured. Perhaps if you contacted the museum, they could put you in contact with him, or contact Loretto Leary the producer of the video and author of this blog:

      Good luck, and I will keep you posted on any information I find! Thanks for visiting the blog!


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