I come from on a small farm in Cork and ever since I was a small child I have had a deep love of nature and the countryside in which I grew up. Going for walks in the forest, trips down the local River Bride in the canoe, mackerel fishing with my father in Cork and Youghal Harbours – I always knew that when I grew up I would find a job that would keep me out of the office seat and in the great outdoors. So when I went to university in NUI Galway I found myself studying Earth Science and loving every bit of it. I then went on to study environmental science in UCD and since I left my studies in 2003 I have been working as an environmental geologist and field scientist in Ireland, the UK and the Basque Country. I am currently working as an independent consultant specialising in soil classification, soil and water quality and renewable energies.
I took up rock climbing and mountaineering when I was in UCD and have climbed all over Ireland from Kerry to Donegal to Wicklow. I’ve also climbed a lot in Europe including places such as the French and Swiss Alps, the Pyrenees, the Picos de Europa, Croatia, Malaga, and Corsica. So when I saw an opportunity to live and work in the Basque Country at the foot of the Pyrenees I jumped at it.
I spent over two years living in the Basque Country and found that almost every single Basque person you meet will tell you of their love of mountains, of hiking, of climbing and of mountaineering. I went on many trips to the Pyrenees and the mountains all over the Basque region.
I returned to Ireland in 2009 and soon got a job as a soil surveyor with Teagasc, the national agricultural research and advisory organisation. This job took me all over the country surveying and classifying soils for a soon-to-be published national soil map. I worked in Wicklow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Wexford, Kerry, Cork and Galway. I got to see and learn so much about the Irish landscape from it’s geology to the glacial history to modern landuse and how it affects the way the countryside looks today. I learned many local names for soils and the land. For example in County Mayo a heavy soil is called “dauby” or “dobey” whereas in other places it’s referred to as “clober” or “marl”. The term “ban field” in Kerry is used to distinguish a good field that isn’t underlain by turf. If you drive through wet or marshy farm land in June, July and August you’ll likely see fields full of the beautiful yellow iris locally known by the Irish name feileastram. I loved it!
When my contract ended I decided to go freelance and have been working as an independent environmental consultant since the beginning of 2013. This has given me the opportunity to pursue an idea I had when I was living in the Basque Country; when I would go to visit friends houses or visit hostels and restaurants in the region I often saw 3D relief maps of the area. I was fascinated by the detail of the landscape that you could see – as if you were looking down on the area from a great height. I had never seen relief maps of Irish landscapes and when I looked for such maps on the internet and in shops I couldn’t find any. That’s when the idea occurred to me that I could make them – with a background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), geology, environmental science and mapping I knew I could design and develop 3D relief maps of well known Irish landscapes. And so, with the support of the Local Enterprise Office in Galway, I set up Terrafrom and have started to design and produce a range of relief maps.