Hillwalking Committee

Hillwalking Committee

Brian Kennan, Chairperson

Brian Kennan is a family man with four children in their twenties. He loves the outdoors and enjoys walking, running. cycling and motorcycling. He is a very active member of the Irish Ramblers Club and is the coordinator for their Thursday Grade 2 hikes. Brian has recently retired from a career in the technology sector and happily swapped his briefcase for a backpack. He has considerable experience in team building and in transforming organisations. He is excited to have the chance to put his organisational and leadership skills to work in support of Mountaineering Ireland's hillwalking ambitions.

Claire Brennan

Claire enjoys the outdoors, particularly hiking and cycling. She is always happy to combine hiking with travelling to new destinations! On a professional level, she works in the pharmaceutical industry and has held roles in Operations and Program Management. She is passionate about making hillwalking accessible to everyone and has been an active member of Club Cualann for over ten years.

Jim McHale

Jim started hillwalking when he joined Clare Outdoor Club in 2005 and he hasn't looked back since. Jim enjoys the club scene, getting out and about with friends and generally appreciating the great outdoors. He has walked extensively in all parts of Ireland, including all the “County Tops” and “600m Peaks”, as well as further afield with trips to the Alps, Andes and Himalayas.? As a Mountain Leader and Mountain Skills provider, Jim delivers both formal and informal training to local clubs. He has served on the club committee in various roles over the years including a couple of years as Chair. During the week, Jim works as an Electronic Engineer. While he is settled in Ennis, most people recognise the tell-tale Mayo name that points to his home county.

Pat Macken

On holiday in the French Pyrenees in 1990 Pat wondered where all those people were going as they disappeared up mountain trails wearing boots and carrying packs. An attempt to join them wearing trainers and without any map was not very successful – so on returning home some decent boots and basic gear were purchased. Hiking in Wicklow only occasionally over the next 15 years led to membership of Siúl Walking club in 2006 and the “real start” of his hillwalking career. Pat completed MS1 and MS2 and progressed, with his wife Nuala, to enjoy route finding and walk leading. Hillwalking has become a core part of his holiday activities in Ireland and further afield, including the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand. Pat has served as Siul’s Training Officer since 2016. Retired since 2017 from a lifetime of Senior Leadership roles in the Pharmaceutical sector, Pat is interested in “giving back” where he can. 

Gerard Reidy

Gerard has been a member of Ballyvaughan Fanore Walking Club since its foundation in 2006. Based in the Burren region of Co. Clare, the club's ambition is to encourage responsible, organised hillwalking and mountaineering activity. Gerard's experience has taken him on many international expeditions, including Mt. Denali in Alaska, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, Mt. Manuslu and Island Peak in Nepal, Mont Blanc in the Alps. He was the club mountain leader on expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus in Russia and to Everest Base Camp. Gerard believes that there is a huge reservoir of knowledge, experience and leadership in the hillwalking and climbing community. His ambition is to support the progression of club networking, effective communications and information sharing among all stakeholders, to deliver significant benefits to our members and to our activity.

Alannah O'Callaghan

Alannah currently works as a Rural Recreation Officer for a Local Development Company in north Cork. She has a passion for introducing people to the outdoors, and loves that she has an opportunity through her work to run initiatives aimed at getting more people out and about in the local area and discovering the hills and trails in the north Cork region. Alannah is an avid trail runner and hill walker and during the winters can generally be found either orienteering, running in the hills, or logging walks for her Mountain Leader Award. She also enjoys scrambling and rock climbing during the summer. She is a member of the Cork Climbing Club, and has been involved in a number of Mountaineering Ireland programmes and events including Women With Altitude and the Youth Alpine initiative.

Elaine Nic Réamoinn

Elaine Nic Réamoinn is a keen hill walker and founder of an outdoor community Siúl Linn, based in the South East. She is currently a trainee Mountain Leader and is excited about her training journey with Mountaineering Ireland. Elaine has hiked extensively across the Irish hills and further afield, including completing the 4-peak challenge with 53 Degrees North, the 3-peak challenge of the UK, and Mt. Toubkal in Morocco. She has many more adventures planned, including the Tour du Mont Blanc this summer. Elaine is a brand ambassador with 53 Degrees North and is an active participant of their adventure club. Elaine loves uniting people in nature and has organised singles events, parents events, LGBTQ+ events and wellbeing events over the past two and a half years. 

Rhys Mahony

Rhys studied Outdoor Education in college and currently works as an Outdoor Learning Youth Justice Worker for Crosscare. His role consists of designing and running outdoor programmes for young people who are referred through An Garda Síochána and local authorities. Rhys has a deep passion for making access to the mountains easier for young people. He has completed the Camping Leader and Lowland Leader awards, and is currently training for his Mountain Leader assessment. Rhys is also an avid climber and recently qualified as a Climbing Wall Instructor. 

Ruth Whelan, Secretary

Ruth considers herself to be one of the lucky ones, getting to marry her passion with her day job and having the opportunity to share her love for the mountains with others. Ruth has a degree in Sports Management and she completed a research masters on the perception of women leaders in sport. Ruth’s current focus is on the development of hillwalking and supporting all our hillwalking members, and she is the staff lead for Women With Altitude. She has walked and climbed mountain ranges in Scotland, Africa, and in the French, Italian and Austrian Alps, however the Irish hills will always be closest to her heart for their rugged charm and wild beauty. 

Caoilainn McDaid, Secretarial Support

Caoilainn joined the Mountaineering Ireland team in 2023 in the new role of Administrator, in which she provides administrative support to the Hillwalking Development Officer, the Access and Conservation Officer, and the Administration Officer. She is an avid hiker and is currently training towards her Mountain Leader Award. In 2022, she completed a six-month thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in the US. When she’s not out on the hills, Caoilainn enjoys climbing, sea swimming, and playing tag rugby.

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