News 2018 

Title:  Mountaineering Ireland Spring Gathering and AGM Report
Date:  28/03/2018

Mountaineering Ireland’s Spring Gathering  took place over the weekend (23rd – 25th March) in the Glen of Aherlow and the Galtee Mountains. It  was a tremendous success  due to a combination of favourable factors – the enthusiasm of the Limerick Climbing Club in hosting the event, an inspirational opening session on Friday evening, the excellent service and facilities provided by the Aherlow House Hotel, the superb weather on Saturday which allowed us to appreciate the beauty of the Galtees and the variety of walks led by members of the Limerick Climbing Club, and above all the positive spirit in which members participated in the various activities both indoors and outdoors.


Mountaineering Ireland’s president Paul Kellagher welcomed all members on Friday night followed by Dave McDonnell the chairperson of Limerick Climbing Club who spoke about the order of the weekend but also about the history of Limerick Climbing Club, a well established club founded 35 years ago this year. He mentioned that back in 1983 the founding membership consisted of 2 Ladies and 13 Gentlemen so in an effort to address this gender imbalance it was decided to name the club Limerick Climbing and Crochet Club to attract the attention of more prospective female members!! Times have changed and today the club has a healthy membership of close on 180 members from across Limerick and further afield. Dave McDonnell then introduced the first key speaker Jimmy Barry who has been exploring the Galtee mountains for over 30 years and is author of the book “Under Galtee Skies…a pictorial journey through the Galtee mountains”.  Jimmy shared his passion and love of the Galtee speaking eloquently about the Galtee mountains and surrounding area both in pictures and words, whetting the members appetites for the mountains that were enjoyed over the weekend. Jimmy Barry then introduced Maureen O Brien a fellow SEMRA team member and they both  gave an informative talk on the work of SEMRA  whose area of operation includes the Galtees, Knockmealdowns, Comeraghs and Blackstairs mountains whose members are drawn from all counties of the South East and beyond. The Limerick Climbing Club then presented Jimmy Barry and Maureen O Brien a cheque for SEMRA of €750 to show support for Mountain Rescue operations and to thank SEMRA for their commitment and dedication in providing assistance where needed on the mountains. 

As the sun shined Saturday morning, over a 120 members set out for a day of activities on a choice of nine walks ranging from easy to difficult organised by Limerick Climbing Club walk leaders as well as an environmental themed walk. Along with sunshine some of the members walked through the snow on the higher peaks of Galtymore and Galtybeg.


Upon their return registration opened for Mountaineering Ireland’s AGM at 17:30. At the AGM, the 2017 financial accounts and auditor for 2018 were approved, the election of clubs to full membership including: Ramblers Country Track, Walking Waterford and Beyond, The Sligo Climbing Club, Belfast Climbing Club, Na Sléibhte Hillwalking Club, Skerries Walking Group, Tuesday Trekkers were approved. Motion 1 (Re. Board Membership), Motion 2 (Re. Terms of office), Motion 3 (Re. Board Sub-Committees and other Groups) proposed by the board were passed by the membership. Motion 4 proposed by the Irish Ramblers for a Hillwalking committee to be created and supported in recognition of the strategic importance of developing hillwalking was also passed by the members. Paul Kellagher was voted as President for another term, and five new ordinary members were voted on to the board namely Imelda Buckley, Trish Kane, Colette Mahon, Gráinne McLaughlin, Geoff Thomas along with Paul Barron (Chairperson), Clare O'Connor, Michael Maunsell and Irene Sorohan who have previously served on the board.  Co-opted Members now include Helen Donoghue (Chair of Access & Conservation Committee), Dawson Stelfox (Chair of MTBI), Simon Walsh (Chair of Climbing Committee) to complete the board. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Board namely Patrick O'Sullivan, Ursula MacPherson, Ross Millar, Shay Walsh and Francis Hackett who have stepped down after many years of service to the organisation.

Saturday night dinner was held at Aherlow House Hotel with over 170 members in attendance, photos of the days fun on the mountains were shown on screen and Dave McDonnell (Chairperson of Limerick Climbing Club) marked their 35th anniversary with a (thankfully) large cake to share with the large number of dinner guests.

In addition to enjoying the mountains, there was plenty of networking between members from different clubs with over 35 clubs represented at the gathering. During the weekend Mountaineering Ireland published its annual review summarising the organisation’s work in 2017  and Mountaineering Ireland’s next Strategic Plan was discussed and well-received by members at the members forum.

Following the members forum on Sunday morning, the Gathering finished with a choice of workshops on Sunday morning, including a workshop held by Birdwatch Ireland, which provided information on birds in Ireland and their threats as well as the type of birds you will find within the local area and an opportunity to sight some birds in the woodland area of the Glen of Aherlow. A Hill Skills workshop was ran by Julie Reeves a qualified mountain leader who instructs both Mountain Skills and the low land leader syllabus who gave participants the opportunity to learn skills to explore the hills and a Club Development Workshop which focused on GDPR and the changes it will have on club processes.

A huge and very sincere thank you to the Limerick Climbing Club for hosting such an excellent event, to the team in the Aherlow House  Hotel who looked after us so well, to our speakers on the Friday evening, to South Eastern Mountain Rescue for their input to the weekend, to Mountain Meitheal South East for arranging a work day to coincide with the Gathering, to Aherlow Fáilte for their support, to the farmers whose land we crossed, to the volunteers who make up the Mountaineering Ireland Board and those who represent us in other roles, to the Mountaineering Ireland staff team and of course to all those members who travelled from different corners of the island to participate in the Gathering.




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