Place to Play: West Cork hills and rivers; for road biking, mountain biking, paddling, fell running and day-dream wanderings!
Not a lot of people know this: I day dream about being a world class Javelin thrower and making the qualifying standard for the next Olympics, despite never having actually held a Javelin!
Mini Bio: I am, and always have been for as long as I can remember, mad for being outdoors. I think the world would be a better place if everyone walked, ran, paddled, biked, or just went outdoors more regularly. I take my four young children outside to do these things and camp for multiple nights each year. I feel very lucky to guide people through the beautiful landscapes we have in Ireland. Mostly I love to help convey a sense of the rich and varied history/culture we Irish are famous for, either through song or story, early or late.
Qualifications & Education
- Honours Degree in Outdoor Education
- Mountain leader
- Rock climbing leader
- White water kayak instructor
I spent 3 years working as an outdoor education instructor, teaching a range of adventure activities to everyone from 8 to 80. I then went on to spend 5 years as a coordinator of an inner-city based adventure project working with disadvantaged teens. For the past several years, I’ve been working as a hiking and outdoors guide, exploring the wonders of Ireland with overseas clients. What a dream job!
Travel & Biggest Adventures
Post college, I spent two full summers mountaineering in the Alps and living the dream! Every night, I slept under the stars and spent my days rock and ice climbing – all on a shoe string budget!
I’ve also taken a couple of 10 day trips to the beautiful Pyrenees mountains on the border of Spain and France for some very special white water river fun. And then there was the time that I spent the winter wandering the mountains of the Cairngorms and Nevis mountain range in Scotland, where I ended up as Acting Warden in the famous Alex McIntyre mountaineering hut!
I’m a passionate outdoors man – I love all things mountains, and enjoy running, biking, trekking and skiing. Recently, I have traded the frenzy of freestyle kayaking for the serenity of the coastline in my sea kayak.
The little-known Irish sport of Irish road bowling, is ingrained in my DNA. As a proud Cork man, I continue to compete at the highest level in that sport!
Music and singing, specifically Irish traditional songs, are very important to me. I particularly love songs specific to a region or historical story.
Irish road bowling, an ancient art of throwing a metal ball down Irish country lanes, is one of my favourite pastimes. Taught to me by my father and to him by his father before, only small pockets of this pure Irish game remain in Ireland and I feel lucky to get to both play and help organise the game.
I’m new to open water swimming, but I’m enthusiastic about this new love. Going from swimming in a warm indoor pool to the chilly wild Atlantic waves opens up infinite adventures of both physical and indeed spiritual possibilities.
I am one of the last generations who worked as a child in the bogs of Ireland in order to cut the ‘turf’ – a traditional fuel source that is cut by hand and laboriously stacked to dry until it is brought in to be burned in the chimney on a chilly winters night, keeping us warm until the following spring. I feel a deep connection with this type of landscape and the culture of an Ireland that is all but gone.
I am West Cork by birth and now raising 4 children with my wife in the hearth of this beautiful part of the southwest, I suppose I am an expert of sorts on this area – although that doesn’t stop me from continuing to explore every back road and tiny sandy bay! No matter how long I live in the region of West Cork, I am constantly surprised by the hidden treasures that I find.
In general, I know and love the entire west coast of Ireland. In my downtime and on family holidays, we almost always head for the West coast of Ireland. Despite the significant change that our country has gone through in the last 20 years, you can easily find the wild beauty and warm welcoming people, bringing us back again and again.
Adventurer's Stories about Donncha
He was fun and careful and made sure everyone had a good time. Knew the area completely so changing plans was no problem. Especially loved the “rest stops" that always included a story or a song! (Having Louise there too was an added attraction!)Claudia Schultz
Donncha was an incredible guide- his knowledge of the trails and his love of Ireland was clear throughout each history lesson, Irish translation and song he graciously shared with us. Our trip felt seamless- each trail, meal and van ride unfolded softly and organically into a treasured experience of Ireland.Marni McCarthy
Donncha was informing and entertaining.Richard de Beaudrap
Donncha was great. His stories and songs were very entertaining. He was helpful without being bossy. He obviously had a real passion for Ireland in general and that region in particular and was able to communicate it to us.Jean Foster
Donnecha was an excellent, knowledgeable kind and warm guide. Would recommend him highly. Eimear was also on the trip and was an absolute delight. Benefited from having both of them!Subathirai Sivakumaran
Donncha O'Brien was a wonderful guide, very personable, highly competent, and had a lovely singing voice!Ellen Wasiuta
Our guide was knowledgeable, accommodating, took good care of us, and gave us much insight into Ireland. His singing was an additional bonus. He had us all joining in and we loved it. It added a lot to my feeling for and admiration for "Irish soul".Sarah Leonard
Donnech(spelling?) was delightful, upbeat, always helpful, and a good driver on the narrow roads.
Donncha was our wonderful, soulful, intelligent guide. He regaled us with lovely songs and his knowledge of Ireland's history and present day was excellent. His love of his country was palpable and he made us love your beautiful country even more.
Already described our great fortune in meeting and having Donncha share with us his amazing country-in all it's natural beauty.
We were just crazy about Donncha, our guide. We mentioned time and again how lucky we were in getting him. His knowledge and love of the area and his sensitivity toward each us made the trip especially amazing. .
Please see previous comments
Donah and John were always available to help as well as entertain children with games and music
We loved Donncha and John. They were comepletely different but complimented each other's personality so well.Mary Ellen Cavanna