Access & Conservation Committee
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Mountain Training Board Ireland

Access & Conservation Committee

Alan Lauder, Chairperson

Alan Lauder is a professional nature conservation and wildlife projects specialist. He has worked across state and non-governmental wildlife and conservation organisations in Ireland and the UK since 1989. Hailing from Scotland, his experience in the mountains started at the age of thirteen when he went hillwalking for his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the Southern Uplands. While he was at Stirling University in the 1980s, he took up rock and winter climbing, with occasional trips to Wales and northern England. Alan continued trad climbing into his thirties and the onset of family life. More recently, he has been balancing a lifelong interest in birds and other wildlife with hillwalking and his other outdoor interests. Alan hopes to bring his knowledge and experience of managing and restoring upland habitats and species to his role on Mountaineering Ireland’s Access & Conservation Committee. 

Noel Caffrey

Noel is the Vice Chairperson of Mountaineering Ireland. He started climbing as a very young scout, with friends, repeating and leading easy new routes in the Burren, Co Clare. He has now been involved in rock-climbing, hillwalking and mountaineering for over fifty years and is looking forward to many more years participating in the sport. Noel has enjoyed trips to the mountains of Africa, South America, Canada and Europe. Being in the mountains is a central part of his life and one he hopes to continue.
Noel says that he is now trying to retire after forty plus years in industry, so that he can spend more time on all things mountain. 

Orla Prendergast

Orla lives in Mayo and has been climbing and hillwalking for over 30 years. She has climbed all over Europe, a lot of the US and a few other spots in between. Long mountain trad routes on good granite is her preferred style. In her work as a lecturer on a degree in Outdoor Education, she is lucky in that she gets to share her love of wild places with students and introduce them to the challenge and beauty of the mountains. She finds that being a Mountaineering Ireland volunteer is a great way for her to give something back to help and support Mountaineering Ireland in its work to protect, sustain and cherish the Irish uplands.

Helen Donoghue

Helen is an active hillwalker and member of the Irish Ramblers Club. Her interest in access to the uplands has broadened to the impact of public policies and indeed hillwalkers on upland landscapes. She has a background in policy development through the years she worked in the European Commission, in environment and energy policy mainly. She spends a lot of time in France and is a member of a hiking club there, which enables her to compare the hiking set-up in the two countries. 

Fióna Gallagher

Fióna is a 30-year veteran of both Mountaineering Ireland and Sligo-Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team, and her knees feel every bit of it! Her involvement in Mountaineering Ireland stems from her love of the Irish hills, and the fact Mountaineering Ireland offers an effective and respectful forum for positive engagement with all the stakeholders in the Irish uplands, from recreational to agricultural to conservationist interests. She has walked extensively in Ireland and abroad and holds the Mountain Leader Award.

Vincent Mc Alinden

Vince lives, works and sometimes plays on a small farm on the south-eastern slopes of the Mournes and for 20 years embraced a 5-minute commute to the sorely missed Killowen Outdoor Centre where he looked after the environmental education side of things.

He has been fortunate to enjoy 30+ years of great mountain adventures. Early club escapes began with Queens University Mountaineering Club before getting into mountain running and climbing further afield with the BARF club. Vince sees volunteering for Mountaineering Ireland as a way of giving a little back to the mountains and the people from whom he has gained so much.

Aine McGirl

Aine loves a good long day out in the hills, enjoying the variety of terrains and different habitats available to us across Ireland. As a result of her Mountain Leader training her interest and curiosity about the natural world grew. This has led her to undertake an M.Sc. in Environmental Sustainability, to better understand our uplands and the actions required to conserve these sensitive and wonderful areas.

James O'Farrell

James first walked with Kenmare Walking, Cycling and Leisure Club which is now Kenmare Walking Club over 30 years ago and joined Mountaineering Ireland. He lives in Kenmare on his family farm, farming in partnership with his son Gerard as did four generations of his family. He is now retired from truck driving, machine driving and trying to retire from farming!

James would like to share what he has learned over the years, both at home and from his travels with the club through Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and USA. James is a recreation representative on the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Forum.

Séan Convery

Séan is a keen hillwalker from south Co. Derry with an interest in the landscape and the natural sciences and how we manage our natural environment. He has been a member of Mountaineering Ireland for seven years and involved with the Colmcille Climbers since 2015. His main daytime job is advising on good farm environmental practices and renewable energy projects and when this gets to be all too much, he likes to get out and climb or scramble up anything that’s rocky but not too vertical.

David Pollard

David Pollard is the current Chairperson of Mountaineering Ireland, but he has remained a member of the Access and Conservation Committee and is passionate about protecting our mountain environment.
David has been a regular hillwalker all his adult life, having first got involved at university. He is currently an active member of both Wicklow-based Club Cualann and the Dingle Hillwalking Club in Kerry. He has walked extensively in Ireland as well as in Wales, Scotland, France, Austria, Italy, Slovakia and Iceland. In addition to being a hillwalker, David is a keen cyclist and, over the years, has dabbled in various water-based outdoor sports.
He is a scientist by training and has spent most of his professional career working in the public sector.

Helen Lawless, Secretary

Helen is Mountaineering Ireland's Access and Conservation Officer, and she sits on the committee as Secretary. Helen considers herself to be in the really lucky position of being able to combine her love of mountains with her work for Mountaineering Ireland. Her job is focused on maintaining and improving our ability to get access to the places where we walk and climb, and helping to protect the mountains we all enjoy. Outside of work, she is an active hillwalker, with a passion for wild and rugged landscapes, and a curiosity about all aspects of the mountain environment. She lives in the Wicklow Mountains, close to Lugnaquilla. Towards the end of the last century, she gained her Mountain Leader Award, and early in 2020 she completed the International Mountain Leader Award.

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