Barbara Walshe retires as Glencree Chair


29/7/22: At the Annual General meeting of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (Glencree) held today, Barbara Walshe retired as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Paying tribute to Ms. Walshe, Glencree CEO Naoimh McNamee said: “Today marks a significant milestone in Glencree’s journey as we bid farewell to Barbara Walshe, Chairperson of the Glencree Board of Directors. Barbara had served Glencree for over 10 years in different capacities, but most notably during the past 8 years as Chair of our Board.

“Barbara joined the Glencree Board at the request of the late, great Colin Murphy, who was acting CEO at the time. It was a time of great uncertainty for Glencree, following the recession of the late noughties. Finance was precarious, there were very few staff and much needed to be done to stabilise the future of the organization. Never daunted by a challenge, Barbara answered the call to action. She immediately set about expanding and strengthening the Board and recruited a new CEO, Will Devas. Together, they worked tirelessly to generate new sources of income for the organisation, to strengthen our Governance, to develop our programme work to meet current needs and to protect Glencree into the future.  Barbara’s energy and passion for the work of Glencree and her belief in the importance and value of our organization was infectious and she encouraged many people to get involved to help with Glencree’s regeneration. As we all know, Barbara is a very hard woman to say no to, and it was this tenacity and driving force that was pivotal to our transformation as an organisation.

“I met Barbara during my time in the Dublin Dispute Resolution Centre. A group of vivacious and engaging women came to meet with me to plan a Glencree event at the Centre. I was deeply impressed by the passion and commitment of these people, hidden away up in the Wicklow Mountains, working tirelessly for peace on this island and very quickly, I started to engage with Glencree myself. Like so many others, Barbara drew me in and we developed a relationship. Barbara is someone I deeply respected, not only for the kindness and humanity she exuded, but also her steely resolve that Glencree was a special place and could continue to add value to peacebuilding not just on this island, but around the world. Barbara championed the role of women in peacebuilding and brought to the fore the role of Una O’Higgins O’Malley, the driving force in the establishment of Glencree almost 50 years ago. She sought to increase the gender balance on the Glencree Board and to introduce the voice of younger people to the organisation. Barbara was also a big factor in my decision to apply for the role of CEO of Glencree. I felt compelled by the opportunity to work more closely with her to help transform Glencree. We shared the same vision for this special place.

“Through the past almost five years of working closely together, Barbara has never failed to impress me with her creativity and ingenuity, her natural ability to build meaningful relationships and articulate and promote the important work of Glencree. One of Barbara’s common phrases that always makes me smile (and indeed brace myself) is: “I’ve had an idea….!”. These ideas translated into considerable increases in funding, richer more relevant programmes, a governance overhaul of the organisation and a substantial growth in the staff team and human resources of Glencree.

“Glencree is now a strong, focused organisation, with a greater public profile. We have a clear and focused five-year Strategic Plan, have completed a full-scale governance review, and are now fully compliant with the Charities Governance Code. We have doubled the number of staff and are now a Strategic Partner of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Glencree is in a very different place from where Barbara found it.

“As colleagues, we have been through a lot together. A lot of out of hours phone calls, travel, meetings, events, dignitary visits, programme activities, and the variety of crises that come with running a complex of old stone buildings. From herding sheep out of the gates of Glencree to dinner at the Aras, there is no task that daunted our eminent leader. There is no greater epitome of the phrase “putting ones shoulder to the wheel” than Barbara Walshe. Never afraid of the heavy lifting or working at the coalface alongside the staff, Barbara Walshe will go down in Glencree’s history as being one of the most effective Chairperson’s we have ever had. We talk about leaving footprints in places, well in Barbara’s case, it is more fitting to say that she has left a lasting ‘heart- print’ on Glencree. I have no doubt that Glencree will benefit from Barbara’s efforts for many years to come.

“On behalf of everyone in Glencree, it has been a pleasure to work with Barbara and we will miss her. However, knowing Barbara and her deep commitment to Glencree, she will never be too far from our hearth and home up here in the Wicklow mountains. We wish Barbara every success with her next adventure, and from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for all that you are and all you have done for Glencree.

“Today, we also acknowledge the huge role that Niamh Darcy has played as the Vice-Chair of our Board. Niamh’s programme management approach, professionalism and willingness to put in the hard work has been such a huge support to staff and Board members alike. She has made such a positive impact on our programme development, strategic review and the Glencree Visitor’s Centre. Thankfully, Niamh will remain a director on the Board and continue to contribute to the future success of the organisation. We would like to thank her wholeheartedly for her contribution during her time as Vice Chair.

“As we look forward to a new chapter for Glencree, it is my pleasure as CEO to welcome our new Chair of the Board, Ciarán Ó Cuinn, and Vice Chair, Mary Madden. On behalf of the staff team, we wish you every success in your new roles and look forward to working with you closely, as we seek to bring Glencree’s new Strategic Plan to life.”