Our board members

Liam Ahern - President Down Syndrome Ireland

My name is Liam Ahern – I’m married to Rena and Dad to Laura who is 19 years old and has Down syndrome. As a family we have been involved in Down Syndrome Ireland since shortly after she was born. She attended mainstream primary school and Scoil Bernadette Special school for her second level education. Laura is currently with COPE foundation as part of their post primary DORAS programme. Both Laura and I have recently given presentations to speech and language students in University College Cork (UCC) and childcare students in Cork College of Commerce on raising the awareness around the capabilities of our children with Down syndrome. We are also as a family involved in Special Olympics and travelled with Laura to the World Read More

Liam Ahern

President Down Syndrome Ireland

My name is Liam Ahern – I’m married to Rena and Dad to Laura who is 19 years old and has Down syndrome. As a family we have been involved in Down Syndrome Ireland since shortly after she was born. She attended mainstream primary school and Scoil Bernadette Special school for her second level education.

Laura is currently with COPE foundation as part of their post primary DORAS programme.

Both Laura and I have recently given presentations to speech and language students in University College Cork (UCC) and childcare students in Cork College of Commerce on raising the awareness around the capabilities of our children with Down syndrome.

We are also as a family involved in Special Olympics and travelled with Laura to the World Games in Los Angeles in 2015.

In terms of work, I started teaching in 1977 initially as a PE teacher and later became a resource teacher. As a resource teacher, I taught in a special class for a number of years. In the late 90’s, I  moved to Glanmire Community College and set up the resource department there.

In 2001 became principal of a school co-patroned by the Cork VEC and the HSE. This was for 12/18 year olds under the care of the HSE.

From 2003 to 2011, I was principal of a second level school with 700 students in a disadvantaged area of Cork.

During the latter stages, I was elected to the Cork County VEC as the parent nominee and was there when it changed over to the Cork ETB.

Between 2013 and the present, I set up two new Community National Schools (under ETB) patronage and currently chair both BoMs.

This year, I had the opportunity to speak to student teachers in Thurles/ MIC on the topic of inclusivity which is very close to all our hearts.

Outside of work, in 2012 I was a volunteer coordinator of services for Down Syndrome Ireland’s Cork branch where I was involved in setting up a number of initiatives.

I have been involved in DSI Cork for many years and have been a committee member up to the present I have also acted as Parentlink volunteer.

 In 2012, I became a volunteer Education Officer for the Cork branch. This involves in most cases visiting schools, meeting parents and setting up talks on various topics related to schools both primary and secondary. Much of the work has also involved taking telephone queries from parents and schools. I have also given talks to teachers in other counties.

I have been involved since the beginning with our Field of Dreams (FoD) project and I am currently helping to oversee how the education programme develops in the FoD in tandem with my role as President and Education Officer with DSI Cork.

I have had a keen interest in the area of disability long before my daughter Laura was born. I volunteered as a PE teacher in the local school for deaf children and learned Irish Sign Language

 In 1988 I travelled as carer with the Irish Pilgrimage Trust which initially took Children to Lourdes but has now evolved into the area of respite. I am now involved for the past 31 years in various roles, Group Leader, DLP, Board of Trustees (National Vice Chairperson) and am currently Safeguarding Officer.

I developed The Trusts Safeguarding Policy in 2015 and am also a Safeguarding Trainer. This role ends in May 2019.

In my spare time I am a keen cyclist and participated in the Tour de Munster as well as six 900 km charity fundraising cycles through France.

Margaret Carroll - Secretary - Dublin Branch

Margaret is a parent of a 29 year woman who has Down syndrome and she have been very involved with DSI since her birth both at branch and national level. Margaret recently retired from working as a Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), having worked with the NCSE since its inception in 2004. She is also the founding Director of The Irish Down Syndrome Sporting Organisation which promotes ability in sports for athletes with Down syndrome. Read More

Margaret Carroll

Secretary - Dublin Branch

Margaret is a parent of a 29 year woman who has Down syndrome and she have been very involved with DSI since her birth both at branch and national level. Margaret recently retired from working as a Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), having worked with the NCSE since its inception in 2004. She is also the founding Director of The Irish Down Syndrome Sporting Organisation which promotes ability in sports for athletes with Down syndrome.

Directors

Michael Gorman - Laois Branch

Michael Gorman qualified with an Honours Degree in Social Studies in 2014/2015. He is currently employed as a Community Employment Supervisor in Ballingarry Thurles helping the long term unemployed to upskill and return to the workforce.  Michael is married to Mary and they have one child Eoin who is 22 years old.  Michael spent many years in Leeds England where Eoin was born but the family decided to return home to give Eoin better opportunities to build lifelong friendships in his local community. Michael was chair of the organisation’s Laois Branch for five years and vice chair prior to that. He is currently the branch PRO. Michael also chaired a Board sub-committee on employment.  He is currently involved in conjunction with Laois County Council in Read More

Michael Gorman

Laois Branch

Michael Gorman qualified with an Honours Degree in Social Studies in 2014/2015. He is currently employed as a Community Employment Supervisor in Ballingarry Thurles helping the long term unemployed to upskill and return to the workforce.  Michael is married to Mary and they have one child Eoin who is 22 years old.  Michael spent many years in Leeds England where Eoin was born but the family decided to return home to give Eoin better opportunities to build lifelong friendships in his local community. Michael was chair of the organisation’s Laois Branch for five years and vice chair prior to that. He is currently the branch PRO. Michael also chaired a Board sub-committee on employment.  He is currently involved in conjunction with Laois County Council in setting up a Sheltered Employment Training Facility for adults with intellectual difficulties in Laois, the “Laois Field of Dreams”.  Michael constantly advocates on behalf of all those with an intellectual difficulty at both local and national level. 

Antoinette Dowling - Laois Branch

Antoinette Dowling lives at the Rock of Dunamaise Portlaoise, Co Laois and is a long serving member of our Laois branch. Antoinette is married to Michael a Farmer and they have three sons Michael Jnr., who has Down Syndrome age 35, Stephen and Seán. Antoinette was instrumental in setting up our Laois Branch in March 1995 and was appointed to the role of Secretary and has held this position on several occasions over the 23 years. She is currently our Branch Vice-Treasurer.  Antoinette worked in the banking sector and is now retired.   Read More

Antoinette Dowling

Laois Branch

Antoinette Dowling lives at the Rock of Dunamaise Portlaoise, Co Laois and is a long serving member of our Laois branch. Antoinette is married to Michael a Farmer and they have three sons Michael Jnr., who has Down Syndrome age 35, Stephen and Seán. Antoinette was instrumental in setting up our Laois Branch in March 1995 and was appointed to the role of Secretary and has held this position on several occasions over the 23 years. She is currently our Branch Vice-Treasurer.  Antoinette worked in the banking sector and is now retired.  

Liam McLoughlin - Dublin Branch

Liam McLoughlin M.Ed., H.D.S.GC., lives in Dublin and is the parent of Maeve, who has Down syndrome. Liam is a retired teacher and Guidance Counsellor and a lifelong advocate of inclusion and the rights of people with a disability to access education and a meaningful life. Read More

Liam McLoughlin

Dublin Branch

Liam McLoughlin M.Ed., H.D.S.GC., lives in Dublin and is the parent of Maeve, who has Down syndrome. Liam is a retired teacher and Guidance Counsellor and a lifelong advocate of inclusion and the rights of people with a disability to access education and a meaningful life.

Bridgette Keane - Dublin Branch

Bridgette lives in Sutton, Dublin. She is married to John and has 6 Children; the youngest being 12 year old twins Christopher & Mark.  Mark has Down Syndrome and is currently in 5th Class in Bayside Senior School with his twin.   Bridgette graduated from UCD with a Batchelor of Arts Honours Degree in Politics & History in 1986 and also has a Certificate in Public Relations from the Institute of Public Relations.  She has been a committee member of Down Syndrome  Dublin Branch since 2011 and is the Treasurer of the branch since 2014. Read More

Bridgette Keane

Dublin Branch

Bridgette lives in Sutton, Dublin. She is married to John and has 6 Children; the youngest being 12 year old twins Christopher & Mark.  Mark has Down Syndrome and is currently in 5th Class in Bayside Senior School with his twin.   Bridgette graduated from UCD with a Batchelor of Arts Honours Degree in Politics & History in 1986 and also has a Certificate in Public Relations from the Institute of Public Relations.  She has been a committee member of Down Syndrome  Dublin Branch since 2011 and is the Treasurer of the branch since 2014.

Enda Gallagher - Dublin Branch

Enda holds an Honours Degree in Business from the University of Limerick and has worked in a variety of roles in both the public and private sectors. From Sligo, he now lives in Dublin and is father to Elisha (11) who has Down Syndrome. He is ex-Chair of the Daughters of Charity Parents Forum and believes that sophisticated advocacy is becoming increasingly critical for our children’s future. Enda joined the board of Down Syndrome Ireland at the AGM in 2018. Read More

Enda Gallagher

Dublin Branch

Enda holds an Honours Degree in Business from the University of Limerick and has worked in a variety of roles in both the public and private sectors. From Sligo, he now lives in Dublin and is father to Elisha (11) who has Down Syndrome. He is ex-Chair of the Daughters of Charity Parents Forum and believes that sophisticated advocacy is becoming increasingly critical for our children’s future. Enda joined the board of Down Syndrome Ireland at the AGM in 2018.

Kevin Griffin - Kerry Branch

Kevin Griffin worked with Eircom based in Killarney and is now retired. Kevin has eight children, the youngest of whom Cathal, aged 24, has Down syndrome. He is currently on the Board of Down Syndrome Ireland and has worked tirelessly to improve services at local and national level and to further inclusion for people with Down syndrome. Kevin has always believed in the volunteer ethos and has involved himself in local voluntary organisations, in particular his local GAA club both as a player and at official level. He was involved in setting up the Kerry Social Farming initiative for people with disabilities and continues as an active member. Kevin also serves as Chairman of a Rural Men’s Project in South Kerry, which was established to Read More

Kevin Griffin

Kerry Branch

Kevin Griffin worked with Eircom based in Killarney and is now retired. Kevin has eight children, the youngest of whom Cathal, aged 24, has Down syndrome. He is currently on the Board of Down Syndrome Ireland and has worked tirelessly to improve services at local and national level and to further inclusion for people with Down syndrome. Kevin has always believed in the volunteer ethos and has involved himself in local voluntary organisations, in particular his local GAA club both as a player and at official level. He was involved in setting up the Kerry Social Farming initiative for people with disabilities and continues as an active member. Kevin also serves as Chairman of a Rural Men’s Project in South Kerry, which was established to combat rural isolation. He is currently a director on the boards of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.; Local Link Kerry - Kerry Community Transport and Kerry Respite Care.

John Upton - Waterford South Kilkenny Branch

John Upton lives in Waterford where he works for the HSE as a Medical Physicist. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Master’s Degree in Physical Sciences in Medicine in 1993, and took up his current post in University Hospital Waterford in 1995. He is married to Maura and they have three children; Sarah & Ann who are in college in Dublin, and seán who attends Secondary school in Waterford, and who has Down syndrome. John has been active in the Waterford & South Kilkenny Branch of DSI since Seán’s birth in 2002, serving as Committee Member, Treasurer, and Chairperson, at various times over the years. He joined the Board of DSI in 2017. Read More

John Upton

Waterford South Kilkenny Branch

John Upton lives in Waterford where he works for the HSE as a Medical Physicist. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Master’s Degree in Physical Sciences in Medicine in 1993, and took up his current post in University Hospital Waterford in 1995. He is married to Maura and they have three children; Sarah & Ann who are in college in Dublin, and seán who attends Secondary school in Waterford, and who has Down syndrome.

John has been active in the Waterford & South Kilkenny Branch of DSI since Seán’s birth in 2002, serving as Committee Member, Treasurer, and Chairperson, at various times over the years. He joined the Board of DSI in 2017.