John first visited Ireland in the Autumn of 1907 at the invitation of Robert Gregory, at whose wedding John had been best man. He returned to Ireland again in 1912 where he met his friend Francis Macnamara. Macnamara had a house at Doolin, Co. Clare from which they would cross over to the Aran Islands. During the war John visited on a number of occasions and took a house in Tuam Street, Galway City, leased from Bishop O'Dea on the understanding that no nude was to be executed there. His plan was to execute a big dramatisation of Galway and he went out into the streets sketching the people.