The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) is dedicated to the conservation and better understanding of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Irish waters. The group was founded in 1990 to establish an Irish stranding and sighting scheme and to campaign for the declaration of Irish territorial waters as a whale and dolphin sanctuary. Just six months later, in June 1991, the Irish Government declared all Irish waters to be a whale and dolphin sanctuary... the first of its kind in Europe. The IWDG is a broad mix of conservationists, whale watchers, researchers, educators and, above all, people who are passionate about marine wildlife and cetaceans in particular.

The IWDG is as registered charity (Charity Number: CHY 11163) and registered with the Charity Regulatory Authority (No. 20029913). We are also members of the Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and receive grant funding from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment through the IEN.



The responsibility of the Board of Directors is to ensure the IWDG comply with their legal obligations and requirements. The board is formed from a number of individuals interested in the work of the IWDG, we always try to ensure representation from Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland. Directors are appointed at the AGM. If you are interested in becoming more involved with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, please email

  • Brendan Quinn (Chair)

    Brerndan is a community Pharmacist, from Strabane Co Tyrone, and a graduate of Queen's Belfast.My interest in marine life came form holidays and weekends in Gweedore, and Galway, from seeing fishing boats land catches, and coming across pods of bottlenose, or the odd stranding on a shore.My A-level project on marine ecosystems won an award, and my fascination with marine life has strengthened over the years with my diving licence coming from the great barrier reef, and having observed sharks, whales, and many other species off Vancouver, Hermanus, Mallorca, Cadiz,Iceland as well as Ireland. He would like to see marine ecosystems protected more, with marine SAC's ("boxes") where no fishing is allowed, introduced to promote the breeding and survival of the most threatened species, the example of the lobster fishery in the Lundy Islands is one we should follow, Brendan also believes that his own (pharmaceutical/nutritional) industry should not be promoting supplements manufactured from the mechanical destruction of sea beds, or by catching huge volumes of the very important food-source, Krill. Brendan considers IWDG serves an excellent purpose by being "cautiously political" while at the same time being scientifically significant, and hope that we remain the first port of call in any marine conservation issue or consultation. He currently lives in the beautiful Coole Park near Gort Co Galway, where he runs the family Pharmacy with his wife Anne, and his three kids.

    E-mail address:
  • Conal O'Flanagan (Secretary)

    Conal has been interested in cetaceans for over 30 years and was delighted to hear in  1999 that a number of people had come together to set up the IWDG.  He joined the Group soon after and became the first co-ordinator of the Constant Effort Sighting Scheme and later did a stint as treasurer of the Group.Work, family and other commitments led to him stepping back from active participation in the Group for a number of years, but as these pressures have now eased he has got more involved again, starting with a week on the Celtic Mist 2016 anniversary cruise.  

    E-mail address:
  • Frances Bermingham

    Frances Bermingham has worked in fisheries in Ireland since 1992, working for the Fisheries Research Centre and the Marine Institute before becoming a Sea Fisheries Officer in 1996. She has been based in Rossaveal, Co Galway and Castletownbere, Co Cork before finally working in Dingle, Co Kerry. She first became involved in the IWDG since 1993, sending in casual sightings while out on fisheries surveys. She was an IWDG Director from 2003 - 2005 and is particularly interested in increasing membership, developing merchandise and improving communication.

    E-mail address:
  • Nóirín Burke

    Nóirín Burke lives in Galway and works as the Education and Outreach Officer in Galway Atlantaquaria. She graduated from NUIC in 2002 and received her doctorate from GMIT in 2008. She is involved in promoting marine science through the Marine Institutes Explorers Group, the Discover Primary Science and Mathematics Programme and the Irish Elasmobranch Group. Her love for the seashore means she is regularly found investigating rock pools with schools in counties Clare, Mayo and Galway.

    E-mail address:
  • Fiacc O'Brolchain

    Fiacc O' Brolchain is an architect who specialises in renewable energy, especially hydropower. What qualifies him as a Director of the IWDG is his knowledge of many things nautical. He is a keen sailor, with over 45 years of experience in sailing and motor vessels up to 30 metres and has extensive experience in Sail Training. Fiacc was invited onto the Board of Directors in 2005 by Simon Berrow; they originally met when Fiacc was working as Editor of The Irish Skipper in 2002. In 2006 Fiacc was captain for two weeks on the second expedition undertaken by the IWDG to the Cape Verde islands. In more recent times Fiacc’s main responsibility has been advising on the maintenance and running of Celtic Mist, on which he was captain on the delivery from Cowes, during the Tall Ships 2011 in Waterford and delivery to Kilrush, after voyaging to Scotland and around the North coast of Ireland.

    E-mail address:
  • Niamh Ryan

    Niamh Ryan graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a 1st class honours degree in Zoology. She has a life long passion for ocean conservation and marine zoology. Her travels & languages have given her opportunities to live, study, work, volunteer, and explore many countries from Europe and the Americas, to Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Africa, Australia & New Zealand. She also has an honours degree in Business Studies from Trinity College Dublin and over 12 years project & programme management and technology experience with leading multinational corporations. Her love of the ocean has seen her volunteer internationally in marine sea turtle conservation. As an active member of IWDG since 2010, Niamh enjoys IWDG whale watching and stranding courses, and trips aboard the Celtic Mist to observe the many species of cetaceans that can be seen in Irish Waters. Niamh spends as much time in the water as possible surfing, snorkelling, and scuba diving. Niamh is particularly interested in supporting the IWDG to develop and deliver their conservation, education & research initiatives.

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Our Officers