News 2016

Title:  Mountaineering Ireland Spring Gathering Report
Date:  11/03/2016

Mountaineering Ireland held their annual Spring Gathering in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare last weekend (March 4th – 6th). Working closing with our host club, The Clare Outdoor Club, the Gathering followed a slightly different format to the usual with the aim of encouraging increased participation in the AGM and also offering a more varied choice of longer workshops on the Sunday morning as well as a more structured approach to Saturday night. Appreciating that many travel long distances to attend our Gatherings, we try to offer as full and interesting a programme as possible from Friday evening through to Sunday lunchtime.

Using the Hydro Hotel as our main accommodation venue, we also based several of our other activities in various other locations around the town. Friday night opened in the Burren Storehouse with a welcome from Jim McHale, Chairperson of The Clare Outdoor Club fellow club member  John O’Callaghan then introduced the key note speaker, Paul Clements. Paul has spent a great deal of time in The Burren over the years, bringing groups on writing courses and enjoying this unique landscape for himself. Setting the scene for the walks on the following day, Paul’s talk concentrated on the key features of The Burren landscape from the famous limestone pavements to the wild flowers and stone walls.

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Walk leaders from Clare Outdoor Club and Ballyvaughan Fanore Walking Club led a total of eight walks and climbing activity on Saturday. Walks covered both well-known areas and also lesser known corners including a couple of areas which even members of the Clare Outdoor Club had not visited before. Hillwalking, Access and Conservation Officer, Helen Lawless, ran a workshop for Club Environmental Officers along with Ruairí Ó Conchúir and David Drew, a former lecturer on karst, hydrology and hydrogeology at Trinity College Dublin. Training Officer, Jane Carney, also ran a Club Training Officer’s Workshop on Saturday.

In a change to the usual schedule, the Mountaineering Ireland Annual General Meeting was held from 5.30pm on Saturday evening.  At the AGM, the 2015 financial accounts and auditor for 2016 were approved, the election of clubs to full membership and election of representatives to other organisations were also approved. Paul Kellagher became Ursula MacPherson successor as President of Mountaineering Ireland’s and three new ordinary board members were voted on to the board namely Simon Walsh, Francis Hackett, Alan Tees. This year’s AGM also saw Frank Bradley, David Batt Una Vejsbjerg and Maeve Mc Keever step down as board members.  The motion to adopt the new bolting policy was proposed by the Board of Mountaineering Ireland and adopted unanimously. The AGM was followed by the Member’s Forum, both of which prompted good discussion from the membership.

Saturday night dinner was again held in the Burren Storehouse and was followed by live music. The music and dancing continued to the early hours!

The Gathering finished off with a choice of workshops on Sunday morning.  Jane Carney ran a short workshop for those interested in club training, giving those who had been out on walks on Saturday, the chance to get involved in this area. While two groups travelled a short distance to enjoy a morning of yoga and caving, a third group stayed in the Hydro Hotel for a Club Development Workshop. The workshop opened with a talk on Mountaineering Ireland’s insurance scheme from our insurance provider, O’Driscoll O’Neil. Insurance always raises questions and queries among the membership and it was a great opportunity to answer some of those and talk through individual experiences from several different club perspectives. Discussion then opened to broader themes giving participants the opportunity of bringing up specific questions and asking for particular advice both from Mountaineering Ireland staff and also from other clubs.

Mountaineering Ireland would like to extend a special thank you to the Clare Outdoor Club for their organisation, enthusiasm and hard work both in the run up to the event and also over the entire weekend. We would also like to thank Ballyvaughan Fanore Walking Club for leading a walk and participating in the Gathering.

The Autumn Gathering will be hosted by Laune Mountaineering Club and will take place in Kilorglin, Co. Kerry on October 14th – 16th. We look forward to seeing you there!

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