30 Years of the Irish Met Society

by Emily Gleeson, IMS Secretary, Novemeber 2011

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

William Butler Yeats

The Irish Meteorological Society (IMS) was founded by Professor Ray Bates on November 9th 1981 and is thus 30 years old this year.

How did IMS come about?

Ray Bates took leave of absence from Met Éireann in 1964 to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston. At that time, all foreign students were assigned to a local family. While at a meal with his ‘local family’, Ray was introduced to Ken Spindler, who was then the Executive Director of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). AMS had 10,000 members and it was said that Ken knew them all by name. It immediately became obvious to Ray that having a Met Society was extremely beneficial. This meeting with Ken Spindler inspired him to initiate setting up the Irish Met Society in late 1981.

The first IMS AGM was held in February 1982, during which a constitution and rules were adopted and a committee of 12 was elected. The goal of the Society was to attract people from all walks of life who have an interest in meteorology and this still holds today. From the beginning, IMS has held evening lectures, field trips and one-day meetings/conferences. Audiences have been enlightened on topics ranging from ‘Golfing in the Wind’ to ‘The Middle Atmosphere – Earth’s Ignorosphere’ and all corners of Ireland have hosted the Irish Met Society over the years, with visits to Valentia Observatory, Mace Head Research Station and Armagh Observatory among many others.

The Irish Met Society is run by a dedicated committee of volunteers who give some of their free time to the organisation. To date 73 people have served on the committee. So far IMS has had 9 presidents. Shane Tierney was the first, followed by Aodhagán Roddy, Tony Scott, Peter Lynch, Bill Wann, John Sweeney, Gerald Mills and Ray Bates. Paul Halton is currently in the role. IMS has also had numerous secretaries and treasurers but all members of the IMS committees are equally important. The following is a list of all past and current committee members, in order of the year they first joined the committee:

Shane Tierney, Aodhagán Roddy, Ray Bates, Dermot O’Connor, Dick Breen, Peter Lynch, Tony Brereton, P. Flynn, Michael Mansfield, Jim Caughey, A. Morrisroe, Cormac O’Connor, Owen Carton,  Jeffrey Gibbs, John Tyrrell, Evelyn Cusack, Jim Hamilton, Joan Blackburn, Seamus Walsh, Gerry McDonald, Michael Connaughton, Shane Finnegan, Tom Sheridan, Peter Bayliss, Tony Scott, Philip Vardon, Aidan Kelly, Steve Browne, Kieran Commins, John Doyle, Gerald Fleming, Margaret Naughton, Sean McCarthy, Michael  Joyce, Kilian Tormey, Pat Shannon, Edward Graham, Dermot MacMurrow, Liam Campbell, Paul Halton, Bill Wann, Kyran Dollard, John Flannery, Douglas Gordon, Philomena Stokes, Denis Fitzgerald, John Sweeney, Michael Cleary, David Downes, Tom O’Connor, Gerald Mills, Joanna Donnelly, Jane Bruton, Cathal Kennedy, Michael Walsh, Klara Finkele, Willemien Phelan, Hugh Daly, John Finnan, Alison Donnelly, Karen Stewart, Sarah O’Reilly, Sinéad Duffy, Liam Burke, Ann-Marie Hickey, Jennifer Hannafin, Keith Lambkin, Morgan Geraghty, John Butler, Emily Gleeson, Dominic Foley, Kilian Harford and Sarah Gallagher.

Where does IMS stand today?

The Irish Met Society has continued to go from strength to strength and has a current membership of just over 200 people. As set out in the original plans, the members still come from all walks of life and include academics, pharmacists, anaesthetists, students, teachers, pilots and many more who share a common love of meteorology. In fact, almost 80% of the membership comes from outside of Met Éireann. While the majority of the members live in Ireland, there are also members from Luxembourg, the USA, the Isle of Man, England, Serbia and Germany. As always the Society welcomes new members and new committee members.


% of IMS members who work for Met Éireann v non-Met Éireann members.


Where IMS members are from -‘geographical distribution’ pie charts.

Geographically, most of the members live in the Greater Dublin Area but this is gradually changing as in 2010 the Society started to podcast (audio) most of the lectures. More recently we have started making video recordings of the lectures.

Last May the Irish Met Society celebrated its 30th anniversary with a lecture by Prof. Ray Bates on “The Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming”. The lecture was held in the RDS and the Society is extremely grateful to Tony Scott for providing their wonderful venue. The Society would like to pay a special word of thanks to Karen Sheeran, RDS, for ensuring that everything ran smoothly on the night.

While 2011 was a celebratory year for the Irish Met Society, it was also a very sad year as Dr Aodhagán Roddy, committee member, passed away. Aodhagán was instrumental in helping Ray Bates to set up IMS in 1981. He was President of the Society for a record-number of 7 years in total and was on the IMS committee for more than half of the Society’s 30-year history. Aodhagán played a huge role in IMS in his quiet, unassuming way and will never be forgotten by members who got to know him over the years.

The Irish Met Society dedicated its lecture evening on November 10th 2011 and its 10-day weather exhibition, both marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Irish Meteorological Service, to Aodhagán Roddy. We hope he would have been proud of our efforts.