Joyce Country

To the west of the Lough Mask, beyond the isthmus, extends Joyce's Country, a hilly region traversed by green valleys and lonely roads which takes its name from a Welsh family who settled here in the 13th C.

It is an area of great scenic beauty with rivers, mountains and valleys lying between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, adjoining Connemara and Iar Chonnacht.

The Joyce Country Mountain and Lake District incorporates the communities of Maam, Corr na Mona, Clonbur, Cloghbrack, Finney, Tourmakeady, Cong, Cross and The Neale.

The area is called "Joyce Country" after the colony of Joyce who came to live in the barony of Ross. Thomas Joyce emigrated to Ireland from Wales at the beginning of the 14th century and settled here. His son married an O’Flaherty and thus the Joyce clan took control of the whole barony of Ross.

Excellence appears to be the great challenge to the Joyces. The Joyce motto exhibits this life long desire: "Mors aut honorabilis vita"-"Death before dishonour".

The family name Joyce has both ancient Irish and Norman antecedents. It comes from a Brehon penal name. The Brehon name Iodoc is a diminutive of iudh, which means lord. It was adopted by the Normans in the form Josse. The first Norman bearer of the name in Ireland was Thomas de Joise, a Welsh Norman who settled in Connacht on the borders of counties Galway and Mayo toward the end of the 12th century. The name may also have been derived from the Norman personal name Joie, which means joy.

The continuation of the Joyce name in the west of Ireland can be seen to this day in the area of Connemara known as Joyce's Country. Many people with the name still live there, and Renvyle House, now a luxury hotel, was once a Joyce stronghold. The most famous Joyce is, of course, James Joyce, born in Dublin in 1882, who died in Zurich in 1941. He is widely acclaimed as the leading writer in the English language in the 20th century.

The Joyce name has been deeply embedded in Connacht since they arrived there by sea in the wake of the Norman invaders. Joyce comes from the French personal name Joy. They quickly intermarried with strong local families like the O'Briens, Princes of Thomond.

A huge clan, they owned vast territory in the Barony of Ross (County Galway), known today as Joyce's Country, and were admitted into the '14 Tribes of Galway'. There were Joyce bishops and crusaders to the Holy Land. One who was captured en route was shown buried treasure by an eagle. When he escaped with this wealth he used it to build the walls of Galway city.