The Galway Mountain Rescue Team was formed in the 1970s when the team came into existence through the efforts of University College Galway Mountaineering Club members (now the National University of Ireland, Galway Mountaineering Club) and the assistance of the Irish Mountain Rescue Association (IMRA).
The Team acquired rescue equipment and undertook first aid training responding to call outs in the region and attending the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick. This practice had been initiated by Cecil O’Gorman. The Team persevered through the 1980s with some members leaving the Team to seek employment opportunities elsewhere. Although the set-up was basic, the Team was very diligent in their provision of an emergency response service. Team equipment was stored in people’s houses and sheds, and it is a testament to the commitment of those Team members that the rescue service is still in operation today.
In the late 1980s, Galway MRT combined forces with Sligo and Mayo MRT's to form the Western Mountain Rescue Association. The Association, which was governed by a senior member from each of the three teams, provided a rescue service in counties Galway, Clare, Mayo and Sligo. After a few short years in the Association Galway MRT applied to become a member of IMRA in its own right and withdrew from the Association. They were accepted initially as a probationary team and went on to return to full membership of IMRA in the early 1990s. The Team undertook an assessment exercise with assessors from IMRA at that time. From the early 1990s helicopter training, in conjunction with the Air Corps and the Irish Coast Guard, became part of the training schedule.
In 1999, the team was recognised for its efforts by being awarded the AIB Better Ireland award and the acquisition of the first Galway MRT vehicle dedicated to emergency response. This allowed the team to keep all their rescue equipment in one place and ensure a speedy response to requests for assistance. The response was further strengthened with the donation to the team of a Land Rover Defender increasing our off-road capability. In the same year the Team hosted the IMRA AGM. The Team completed an Assessment exercise under the auspices of IMRA in the Maam Valley in 2002.
In 2006, current and retired members came together in a night of celebration of the team. The team also started to seek winter mountaineering experience travelling to Scotland to up-skill in colder conditions. Fraternal relations were established with Olympia Mountain Rescue Team, from Washington State, U.S.A. where Galway MRT hosted an Olympian member for an academic semester. The Land Rover was replaced in 2004 with a second hand acquisition of another Defender with back seats increasing the capacity of the vehicle and allowing rescuers to get to the hill faster.
In recent years the Team hosted the IMRA National Exercise at Connemara National Park in Letterfrack. Throughout the years team members travelled to both AGM and National Exercise events hosted by the other mountain rescue teams in Ireland, both North and South. The Team also hosted a number of training events with SARDA (Search and Rescue Dog Association).
The team successfully completed an external assessment in October 2012, facilitated by Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI) where the team equipment, administration and operational capabilities were tested. However, the external assessors highlighted the following immediate needs of the team:
“The lack of a base facility with sufficient space to store, inspect, dry and maintain rescue equipment and to properly house team vehicles is a serious impediment in providing a safe and efficient rescue service. A dedicated rescue base is a pressing requirement, which impacts across a range of sectors including giving necessary assistance to visitors in Connemara and the national park and supporting an adequate wilderness emergency response generally.”
Securing this base facility will be a priority for the team in 2018! Local support will be critical to ensuring the success of this project. Show your support by making an online donation today.
Galway MRT has had many Team Leaders over its 40+ years of operations. Here is the roll call of Team Leaders since the early 1980s:
- Peadar Dubhthaigh (1980-82)
- Eugene Ross (1982-1986)
- Jim McComb (c.1987)
- Enda Mooney (c.1992-1999)
- Stephen McGrath (1999-2003)
- Tony Daley (2003-2007)
- Ronan Concannon (2007-2011)
- Alan Carr (2011-2014)
- Rory Sherlock (2014-Present)