Current Council

The Gaisce Council comprises of 15 members. Gaisce Council members are appointed for a three year term and comprise President’s Award Leaders, Gaisce awardees, business supporters and those with relevant experience. The nomination of Council includes the appointment of a Chairman.

John Concannon

John is the Director of Ireland 2016, the 100 year anniversary commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Before taking on that mantle, John was Director of Market Development with Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland from 2009 until 2014. He was responsible for the domestic marketing of Ireland as a tourism destination and developed the successful ‘Discover Ireland’ consumer brand and marketing programme. He also headed up online and digital strategy, international business tourism, festivals and events, the ‘Visit Dublin’ division, and ‘visitor and trade engagement’ as well as the international publicity function for Ireland. In 2010 John was awarded the accolade ‘Irish Marketer of the Year’ for his work relating to the marketing of Ireland as a tourist destination.

 Andrew Madden

Andrew works in Training Services at Carmichael Centre and has a long history of working with many community, voluntary and charity organisations for many years.

Educated in Project Management, Management Principles and a certified Microsoft Master Instructor, Andrew has successfully worked within the sector to develop IT skills but is currently focused on governance supports for boards of not-for-profit organisations. Andrew has been a member of the Council of Gaisce, The President’s Award for Young People since March 2012 and is a member of the Board Oversight Committee of Meath Street Credit Union.

In April 2017 Andrew was awarded a Certificate in Charity Law, Trusteeship & Governance from the Law Society of Ireland.

Justin McAleese

Justin McAleese is a PwC trained chartered accountant and is currently Director of Investor Relations at Granahan McCourt Capital and Head of Operations of one of its portfolio companies. 

In the period 2011 to 2016, Justin held various positions at Ryanair including Head of Investor Relations and Purchasing, and Executive Assistant to the CEO. In 2015, Justin was actively involved in the marriage equality referendum, serving as joint constituency co-ordinator of the Yes Equality Campaign in the Dublin Bay South constituency. Justin is an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program and holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and Master of Accounting Degree from University College Dublin.

Carmel Nic Airt

Carmel has held positions as a teacher and member of management in various schools.

 She is the founder of Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin, the first multi-denominational Gaelscoil in Ireland outside a major city with more than 300 students and over 30 members of staff. Carmel is a campaigner for the rights of all children to an education befitting their ability irrespective of background, cognitive or physical ability is currently undertaking a PhD in Coláiste na hOllscoile, Corcaigh.

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop

Ellen is Adjunct Professor to the School of Law at UL and Chairperson of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

She was CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre from 2006-2016. She worked as a Psychotherapist and Group Analyst for 24 years and was the first female President of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy. She was a founder member of the Masters Programme in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at Trinity College Dublin and worked on the programme for 15 years. She was a member of the Task Force which informed the creation of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. She is a member of the Legal Aid Board and Chairperson of its Audit and Risk Committee. For 22 years she has been Director of the Annual Bard Summer School Clare Island, Co. Mayo. She is married to Sandy and is the proud mother of 4 sons and grandmother of 4 granddaughters. She is passionate about heritage and folklore and enjoys music, theatre and sport.

 Aonghus Sammin

Gus Sammin is a chartered certified accountant with over 20 years’ business experience.

Originally from Mayo, he travelled widely and worked overseas with multinationals before setting up Bradán Accountants in 2006. Bradán are now based in Galway and Dublin and provide accounting and other admin services to SMEs and Not-For-Profits using cutting edge cloud technology.  Gus chairs the Finance and Audit committee of Gaisce. He is married to Deirdre and has two daughters, Molly and Katie. He is also a long suffering fan of Liverpool FC and Mayo GAA.

Miriam Dollard

Miriam Dollard is the Head of Protocol in the Department of the Taoiseach.

 In her current role she co-ordinated the State Ceremonial element of the 1916 Centenary Programme.  She has also worked in the Corporate Affairs and European Union Divisions of the Department.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from University College Dublin and a Higher Diploma in Education from Trinity College Dublin.

Norma Smurfit

Norma is a formidable fundraiser for a wide range of charitable organisations throughout Ireland.

 In 1990 She set up First Step to assist new businesses, which has since lent in excess of €10 million supporting 2,100 projects nationwide, in turn creating 5000 employment opportunities. She has also founded the Irish Famine Commemoration Fund, which distributes funding to organisations working with homeless and disadvantaged youths. She was also the creator of “Spring Clean for Charity” day in Dublin, Cork and Limerick which has raised thousands of euro for St. Vincent de Paul, Focus Ireland and Barnardos. Most recently, Norma has founded Change for Charity, an initiative designed to raise money for charity by putting copper coins that might otherwise get lost to good use. Gaisce is one of the beneficiaries of the initiative.

Lydia Bracken

Dr Lydia Bracken is a Lecturer in Law and Director of Clinical Legal Education in the School of Law, University of Limerick. In these roles, Lydia teaches, encourages and supports young people and supervises and co-ordinates skills-based learning in the School of Law. Lydia’s research interests are in the areas of children’s rights and family law and she has published nationally and internationally in these areas. Lydia is committed to legal reforms that ensure that the best interests of children and young people are secured. Lydia’s PhD thesis examined the implications of the best interests principle in the context of same-sex parenting in Ireland and was supported by a Department of Children and Youth Affairs Research Scholarship. Lydia is also a qualified barrister with knowledge of a range of legal areas.

Lydia’s current professional activities include membership of the Advisory Group for Research Evidence for Policy Program and Practice (REPPP), which is funded by the DCYA, and she serves on the AHSS Athena SWAN Steering Group at UL. She has also experience of the charity/CVO sector from her previous advocacy volunteer role with the ISPCC.

Denis Duggan

Denis Duggan, Chief Executive of Macra na Feirme.  He has previously served as the programme manager for Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Arena at the National Ploughing Championships, Ireland’s largest outdoor agricultural exhibition.  Enterprise Ireland is the Irish Government’s trade and business development board supporting Irish companies as they export goods and services internationally.  Under Denis’s stewardship of the Innovation Arena, Enterprise Ireland sought to discover new innovative agri-tech startup businesses and simultaneously acknowledge the high-end research and new product development that sustains established agri-businesses.   Denis holds an Executive Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from NUI Galway, a B.A in Sustainable Rural Development from Limerick IT, and has completed a Sustainable Development programme in Harvard University.  In the past, Denis was a volunteer and board member of Tipperary Regional Youth Service, amongst other voluntary organisations.  


Paul Sweetman

Paul is Director of Technology Ireland, the largest and most influential business organisation representing Ireland’s technology sector. As Director, Paul leads all aspects of the association’s activities and works with the Technology Ireland board of CEOs, Country Managers and Founders to make Ireland a global technology powerhouse.

Paul is a board member of Digital Europe and FIT Ltd. Paul also chairs the National Technology Apprenticeship Oversight Committee and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs Project Advisory Group for the assessment of Ireland’s technology skills needs. Paul is an Advisory Group member of Science Foundation Ireland’s Smart Futures initiative and a National Steering Council member for the organisation Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT).

Paul holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from University College Dublin, a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech, USA, and a Diploma in Leadership from Dublin Institute of Technology. Paul also completed the Internet Leadership Academy Programme at the University of Oxford, holds a Professional Certificate in Governance from the Institute of Public Administration and is a recipient of the Silver Gaisce

Karen Buckley

Karen Buckley is an educationalist based in Dublin and has enjoyed working in a range of school settings from traditional, formal, second level through informal adult and community learning, to Higher Education. A proud graduate of Maynooth University, Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Sociology, a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology and Post Graduate Diploma in Education. Karen is a doctoral candidate in MU Education Department where she is exploring Teacher Education, Identity and Professional Development practices among educators. Karen is Head of Research and Assessment in the School of Education at Hibernia College. Karen develops, delivers and evaluates initial teacher education Masters programmes and engages with interdisciplinary and collaborative project-based research in education. Attainment of her Gaisce Bronze award, through community involvement endeavours, ignited Karen’s passion for youth development, education and active citizenship. Karen hopes to perform a key role in securing better outcomes and brighter futures for young people during her term on the Gaisce Board of Council.

Feargal Hynes

Emma Farrell

Maura Lyons

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