dscf3656Welcome to Authentic Travel and Tours, LLC! Our small group tours and workshops offer travelers a variety of places and activities to go off the beaten track, make connections from the past to the present, spend time with local people, and learn from local guides and instructors. On some of our tours we offer hands-on art immersion and workshops in addition to cultural adventures to the southwestern USA, Ireland, Scotland and France. Our goal is to create a perfect balance of fun and adventure, and to mix in some history, archaeology, and contemporary culture. Meeting and working with local people, artists and performers is always a highlight, as is walking in and absorbing the landscape. Follow our blog to receive updates on new tours, which will be announced soon! You can also like our Facebook page and will see announcements there as new trips are added.

UPCOMING TRIP 2022 dscf3656Welcome to Authentic Travel and Tours, LLC! Our small group tours and workshops offer travelers a variety of places and activities to go off the beaten track, make connections from the past to the present, spend time with local people, and learn from local guides and instructors. On some of our tours we offer hands-on art immersion and workshops in addition to cultural adventures to the southwestern USA, Ireland, Scotland and France. Our goal is to create a perfect balance of fun and adventure, and to mix in some history, archaeology, and contemporary culture. Meeting and working with local people, artists and performers is always a highlight, as is walking in and absorbing the landscape. Follow our blog to receive updates on new tours, which will be announced soon! You can also like our Facebook page and will see announcements there as new trips are added.  “IRELAND PAST AND PRESENT’   May 12-22,2022   FULL

This trip is also being offered  September 6th-16th, 2022   Please contact us for the brochure and registration materials at joanslack33@gmail.com, or 715-550-0858


HDSCN1005istory and folklore along the western coast

From prehistoric settlements and standing stones to Victorian gardens and castles, the western coast provides a fascinating overview of the people, history and culture in Ireland. You’ll be learning about the past, and making connections to the present through guided walks and site visits. With local guides to interpret the history from 5000 BC, we will walk with them to explore this spectacular region, learning about everything from megalithic tombs and Bronze Age forts, to monks, pirates and land barons. Ireland will enchant you, and history will come alive as we see sites in the landscape, learn about the people of the past, and see the magic alive today in the music and arts.

DSCF6243We will begin in the lively city of Galway, where you’ll discover its history and secrets with a guided walking tour. From Viking raids to the Spanish Armada, Cromwell’s siege of the city and enslavement of the population, our guided walking tour will open your eyes to what life was like inside and outside the walls of ‘The City of the Tribes ‘for the past thousand years. The city has a rich history, a thriving traditional music scene, and an array of galleries, markets and locally made products such as woolens and knitwear. It also has a variety of fabulous restaurants and pubs to explore. We will be staying for 5 nights on Eyre Square in the heart of the city for easy access to all it has to offer.

We will explore Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands, for a day. Local guide Dara Molloy will provide insightful narratives and interpretations of very special places, such as the 7 ancient churches, ringforts and dolmens, and the magnificent Dun Aengus cliff fort dating from at least 3,500 years ago. The rich history and deep spiritual aspect of this place is very profound, and Dara brings it to life with his knowledge and love of the lore and legend,

We will spend a day in the Burren, so named for its unique limestone landscape, which is not only starkly beautiful, but also holds a plethora of ancient and medieval sites. Author and guide Tony Kirby will lead us on a walk through this distinctive place, with entertaining commentary interspersed with lines of great Irish poetry.
Highlights include learning about rare species of flowers, ancient monuments and the stories of the people who have lived here. The Burren also is home to World Heritage site Caherconnell Stone Fort, which provides a look at Bronze Age life. Our visit will also include a sheepdog presentation by the local landowner. Ongoing fort excavations have shown that sheep and dogs have been a constant feature of life at Caherconnell over time.

There will be free time to explore Galway- historical sites, seaside walks, and array of shops and restaurants.  You will know your way after your introductory walking tour, and can revisit and explore the lanes and hidden places, and feel the history.

Our next stay will be in the charming village of Clifden. A visit to Aughnanure Castle will give us a unique look at life in Gaelic Ireland.  One of the wildest features of the Castle is a trap door in the floor of the banqueting hall which allowed for a surprise attack and instant disposal of unwanted visitors into the fast-flowing river below! You’ll hear stories of the infamous Grace O’Malley, known as the “pirate queen”, who called the western coast and isles her domain.

We will spend 5 nights in Clifden, in the Connemara region-a place of stunning landscapes, lively towns, and a human history beginning in 5000 BC. Spectacular white sand beaches border the western edge, with mountains, loughs, bogs, waterfalls and lush valleys to the east.

We will begin with an orientation to the town, and a guided walk with Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill. She will tell stories of famine, war, religious conflict, street riots and political rallies in this 200-year-old town. You’ll learn about John D’Arcy, the founder of Clifden, and later will see his castle. Kathleen is the author of several books and has a wealth of knowledge about the history and heritage of her native Clifden.

Well known archaeologist Michael Gibbons will walk us through the earliest history, telling stories of the past and bringing alive the people who have lived here for thousands of years. Michael will take us time traveling through the earliest settlements to more recent history, all while walking with him to the sites. Not only is he an expert in his field, he also is an amazing historian and storyteller!

Another day will be spent with Noel Joyce, a native Irish speaker, who will explore “Joyce Country” with us, bringing alive his own history and stories. We plan to show you ancient pilgrimage routes used in medieval times, and still enjoyed by walkers today, as well as “holy wells”, and the traditions around them. He’s a great storyteller and full of laughs, and very knowledgeable about history and culture. Noel works at Ballynahinch Castle, a fishing estate and hotel, which we will visit.

There will be free time for local walks, shopping, and listening to local musicians in Clifden pubs.

Both Galway and Clifden have a variety of excellent restaurants and pubs. You’ll find imaginative dishes featuring mouth-watering beef, Irish salmon, sea trout, oysters, tender Connemara lamb and locally caught fresh fish and seafood. With our hotels right in town, you can explore the historical sites, local walks in the landscape, shops, galleries, bookshops, beaches, restaurants and pubs during free time.

cropped-r1-21a.jpgIn a small group trip that is designed for an authentic experience, you will see things and meet people that are not possible on your own. Your leader has been to these places and worked with our guides, and guarantees an incredible adventure. We keep numbers low, usually from 10-15 people, both for the freedom, flexibility, and camaraderie that small groups engender, and also so that guests may enjoy a more personal and authentic travel experience. This helps make your trip genuinely special and different from conventional tours, large buses, and too little time in one place. Less moving from hotel to hotel means you can settle into a rhythm of rich and deeper experiences, with less packing and time on a bus.

Please join us for a unique and unforgettable travel experience- in-depth, authentic, and off the beaten track!

Your tour leader and guide:    Your tour will be led by Joan Molloy Slack, who will guide the tour and interpret the range of fascinating things we will see and experience.  She has been organizing and leading tours for 18 years to Ireland, Scotland, France, and Mexico , with a specialty in Irish Art and Culture tours. In addition to leading tours, she is a teacher and ceramic and fiber artist, (www.riverrunarts.org) , and holds a Master’s Degree in Prehistoric Ceramics and Visual Art. Joan will bring her knowledge of art history, experience as a museum curator, and her passion for Ireland to our daily excursions. As a firm believer in sustainable tourism, she also seeks out the best local guides so that we may hear and see through their eyes as well.  She is an Irish/American dual citizen, and her family comes from a small town called Rathcabbin in Tipperary.  You can read about her travels and research in Ireland on her blog at www.authentictravelandtours.com

 “I began tour guiding 19 years ago through teaching college classes combined with tours in Art History to Mexico and Ireland. I also led independent travel experiences that included Ireland as well as Scotland and France, after researching prehistoric art and ceramics and attaining my Master’s Degree. My fascination with the people who were the first recorded artists, as seen in the cave paintings in France, or on ancient pottery designs or rock art carvings, continues to drive my desire to learn, explore and share my passion for what I have learned with fellow travelers. As I researched and traveled, I found that the best way to delve deeply was to seek out local guides, artists and historians who helped bring the stories of places alive. This never fails to create a rich, meaningful and life changing experience. Layers of story, place names, deeper meanings and human connection create a rich, multi-layered tour with memories that remain long after the travel is over.  I bring this element to all of my tours, and it makes all the difference in what feels authentic versus an overview.  I am so looking forward to sharing amazing people, places and experiences with you!”




The tour begins and ends in Galway city, where we will stay at the Eyre Square Hotel in the city center. You will need to travel to Galway from either Shannon or Dublin airports, both of which have excellent transportation options. There are direct airport bus shuttles from both airports. The group will meet at the Eyre Square Hotel in central Galway (a short walk from the coach station should you arrive by bus). Please try to arrive as early as possible to make the most of the time we have. If possible, try to arrive a day early so that you can recover from travel and be ready to enjoy the trip.  Options would be to stay near Dublin airport- there are several hotels at the airport, and many b and b’s in the community of Swords, just 10 miles away. Alternatively, take a bus from the airport to Galway directly off you flight. A direct bus to Galway takes 2 hours.  CityLink and GoBus run frequently all day, as do Shannon busses.

Participants will be dropped off in Galway near the coach station. I am happy to help with planning and contacts for travel arrangements, or if you’d like to extend your stay before or after the tour. I am also available to plan and guide an add-on trip.

Our lodging in Clifden will be Foyle’s Hotel, which has been managed by the Foyle family for over a century and has an old-world charm. The hotel has a restaurant and pub, as well as lovely sitting rooms where you can have a cup of tea and reflect upon your day.

We will be walking outdoors on many of the days. Participants should be able to walk for 2-4 hours on uneven terrain at times. If you have any concerns about mobility issues, please contact us before registering. You will need to transport your own luggage in hotels so travel lightly! Weather can be unpredictable, so good rain and foot gear will make your outdoor time most enjoyable, as we will carry on with the itinerary no matter the weather. May is one of the driest months in Ireland, and temperatures will be in the 60’s. More details and an itinerary will be sent to you upon registration. Transportation to Inishmore in the Aran Islands will be by ferry and ground transportion will be with local drivers in a minibus.

Interesting site information :


Eyre Square Hotel  https://www.eyresquarehotel.com/

Foyle’s Hotel   https://www.foyleshotel.com/

Galway City  https://www.galwaytourism.ie/

Dara Molloy, Aran Islands guide  https://www.daramolloy.com/

Dun Angeus  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%BAn_Aonghasa

Tony Kirby   https://www.heartofburrenwalks.com/

Caherconnell Stone Fort  https://caherconnell.com/

The Burren   https://www.europeanbestdestinations.com/destinations/eden/the-burren/

Inishmor, Aran Islands   https://www.aranislands.ie/inis-mor-inishmore-island-aran-islands

Aughnanure  Castle    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aughnanure_Castle

Ballynahinch Castle  https://www.ballynahinch-castle.com/en/about-us/history

Michael Gibbons   http://walkingireland.com

Noel Joyce  www.connemarahikes

Clifden   http://www.visitclifden.com/index.php/galleries/history-heritage/

Grace O’Malley     http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/en/about-mayo/history/grace-omalley-the-pirate-queen.html



Cost: The cost for this tour is $2750 per person.

What is included in the price:

  • Lodging for tour dates at centrally located Eyre Square Hotel in Galway and Foyle’s Hotel in Clifden. Price is based upon 2 sharing a room with a double or twin beds. 3 people can share a room with 3 beds if available. There is an additional charge for single room- please contact for rate. Single rooms may have limited availability and are on a first-come, first served basis.
  • All ground transportation, including buses and ferry after arrival at hotel and until last day of trip. We will have our own private driver in a small bus for day trips
  • Full Irish breakfast and buffet every morning with tea and coffee
  • All custom tours and guides, admission fees, walking tours, and special events in itinerary
  • guided presentations at site visits, and gratuities
  • customized special events and demonstrations

Price does not include:

  • lunches and evening meals . We have opted not to make meals all-inclusive due to personal preferences and dietary issues, and allows people to choose a range of options. This also gives people the freedom to explore and sample a variety of restaurants and cafes. On days out we stop for a lunch at a café. (Expect meals to cost 5-12 Euro for lunch, and 12-30 for dinner, depending on the restaurant or pub)
  • travel to and from Ireland and any travel outside of tour dates. The tour begins at the hotel in Galway and ends in Galway: transportation by bus or taxi to other destinations is not included
  • insurance for health, luggage, transportation, cancellation/interruption. We strongly advise that you purchase travel insurance
  • any extra or “optional” sightseeing, tours, taxis, or tickets

Please contact Joan at 715-550-0858 with any questions or e-mail joanslack33@gmail.com




Please see the registration forms on the following pages.


This trip will also be held in September 2022, with tentative dates of September 6-16th. Please let us know if you are interested in this tour.










Testimonials from past tour participants:

“My travel experience with Joan leading the group was above and beyond my expectation. Joan’s research into so many areas of interest about the sites and folklore made the trip stimulating and insightful without being overloaded. She is a seasoned guide with great “in country” connections and a sincere love of the land she travels. I highly recommend Joan Slack as a tour guide. You will have a wonderful, memorable time. I did.”      J.H.

 “Joan organizes her trips like she creates her art: beautiful, practical, and full of meaning. I’d never been on a group trip before.  Joan’s voyage to Orkney in Scotland was a joy, every day. It’s one of the very best adventures of my life.”   C. P.

“If you want dependability combined with unique experiences, attention to details and wonderful connections, this is a great tour to take. Each day has been planned for a balance of activities, a good pace and plenty of enjoyment. Joan’s background and knowledge really makes for a deeper understanding of everything we see.” K.M.W.

“If you have never been on a small group tour, go with Joan. If you have been with someone else, go again with Joan. Her planning, arrangements, and site selections are perfect! You will meet warm, friendly and local people from all walks of life with talents to share. I still have a Bridget’s Cross, made by Joe from our trip, hanging by my door. Happy travels!” A.H.

j-campbell-felt-class-087Authentic Travel and Tours is owned by art history scholar, artist, teacher and writer Joan Molloy Slack, and tours are created and led by her. Assistant leaders, co-leaders and local guides enhance the guiding of each tour. Joan believes that including local people and guides on day trips is essential in creating unique experiences and authentic travel. Her background in research and experiences in the tour locations has enabled her to meet and study with many local guides who are now friends and colleagues, and she shares these very special relationships with you on her tours. She has posted many of her essays about her experiences around the world on the “blog” pages, and we hope you enjoy them!

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