Sligo Mountaineering Club hosted a wonderful Spring Gathering last weekend, 07-09 March and it provided a fitting opportunity for the club to celebrate its 40th anniversary. David Bourke, chairperson of Sligo MC welcomed all to Mountaineering Ireland's Spring Gatheirng and set the tone for a hugely enjoyable weekend. To get the event underway, two Sligo MC members, Fiona Gallagher and Eamon Gaughan entertained everyone with a humourous and informative presentations of ‘Darty Uplands – Rocks, Mines and Myths’ and 'Arctic Alpine Flora of Benbulben’ respectively.
On Saturday everyone took to the mountains with Benwisken, Benbulben, King's Mountain, Knocknarea, Tievebaun, Eagle’s Rock, Truskmore high on the agenda of many while others took shelter from the wind in Happy Valli. Also, Club Training Officer and Club Environmental Officer workshops took place with a focus on the role of a Club Training Officer and the skills involved in teaching navigation and leadership led by Jane Carney and the flora, fauna, local heritage and the role of a Club Environmental Officer, with Sligo-based environmental educator Michael Bell and Helen Lawless.
Sunday's more formal proceedings included the Mountaineering Ireland Annual General Meeting and Members' Forum. At the AGM the Board of Mountaineering Ireland
was elected, the 2013 financial accounts and auditor for 2014 were approved and the election of clubs to full membership and election of representatives to other organisations were also approved. A motion, proposed by Sligo MC 'that new club members can join Mountaineering Ireland from 01 September for the following club year (a maximum of 14 months) in order to address concerns of Sligo MC and others' was adopted unanimously.
The members' forum provided an opportunity for members to air concerns and issues. The emergence of more and more energy developments was of greatest concern, with Eirgrid, MAREX, wind park developments and fracking some of the critical issues discussed. There was also concern expressed around the lack of progress of Comhairle na Tuiaithe's Mountain Access projects and whether this is viable and can ever encompass all mountain areas as it was supposed to. A query was also raised regarding the staffing of Mountain Skills courses and the new requirements (for 2015) that all staff must have completed a Train the Trainers workshop.
A final session of workshops, ‘Safe Helicopter Procedures on the Hills', ‘Club Committees – maximising roles and responsibilities’ and ‘Taking to the Alps this Summer’ had good attendance. Participants in the Club Committee workshop requested that this workshop be delivered again at the Autumn Gathering.
Mountaineering Ireland would like to thank everyone who supported the Spring Gathering, especially Sligo MC and its organising committee who really did a wonderful job in making it a hugely successful weekend. Thanks also to Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team, Sligo Southern Hotel, landowners throughout the area, Fiona Gallagher and Eamon Gaughan, Michael Bell, Fran Lynch, David Bourke, Michael Mulligan, Valli Schafer and everyone for attending.