Donegal Mountain Rescue

Guiding You Home Safely...Charity Number: CHY16541

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Due to the significant increase in the number of callouts experienced in the last two years the team are now seeking to recruit enthusiastic individuals interested in working as part of the team to achieve high standards of casualty care in the Donegal mountains.
We are seeking people with a strong interest in mountaineering activities , a high level of commitment , be reasonably fit and possess hill walking / climbing experience , some navigation and hill skills as well as a commitment to participating in regular team training and callouts.
Recruitment to the emergency response team is open to people over 18 years of age living within one hour of the county’s mountainous areas.
It takes approx 1-2 years to progress from being a probationary member to qualifying as a full operational member. The Donegal Mountain Rescue training programme covers four core areas namely, mountain operations, search and rescue operations, casualty care, and operations co-ordination.
We would also be interested in hearing from members of the public that may be interested in assisting us with the various other duties involved in running a voluntary mountain emergency response team including organising fundraising days and events, general administration , vehicle maintenance etc.

For many years people have been straying into trouble in the wild and remote corners of Co Donegal. The only hope of search and rescue lay with the local guard and whatever hill farmers could be rounded up at short notice. Indeed in 1943 when an RAF Coastal Command Shorts Sunderland flying boat strayed off course and crashed high in the Bluestack Mountains it was the local Parish Priest who co-ordinated the initial rescue effort.
From the mid-1960′s organized rescue came through the An Oige youth hostel in Dunlewey. An Oige maintained mountain rescue equipment at the youth hostel and groups used the equipment as required. An Oige also maintained a national mountain rescue team which responded to large or extended incidents across the country.
The system worked well for the county until up to the early 1980′s. A review of mountain rescue provision in Northern Ireland in 1978 had led to the formation of the North West MRT based in Derry City in 1980. As this team began to develop its training programme brought its members to the Derryveaghs. Whilst training some local people from the area joined the North West team on its exercises. NWMRT also took on the responsibility of responding to incidents in Donegal alongside the existing An Oige arrangements. However, with a response time of nearly three hours to Errigal it soon became clear that there was a need for a more locally focused and formalized approach to mountain rescue.
In 1982 a group of people from the Dunlewey and Gweedore areas came together to take the first steps in establishing the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team. Initially they developed a training programme and used the An Oige equipment. In early 1983 the group approached the Irish Mountain Rescue Association (IMRA) and made an application for recognition as a mountain rescue team. This process of recognition took a full year and the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team was granted full recognition and membership of IMRA in 1984. The An Oige team disbanded the same year and many of its Dublin based members transferred to the newly formed Dublin/Wicklow MRT.
Donegal MRT continued to develop through the remainder of the 1980′s increasing its skills, experience and capability. During this time incidents were not very regular, however, the team gained valuable experience through a number of serious incidents including one fatality.
By the early 1990′s the team had purchased its first four wheel drive response vehicle which was a decommissioned Forward Control Land Rover Fire Engine. Shortly after an approach was made to Urdras Na Gaeltacht to rent a unit in the Gweedore Industrial Estate to act as a rescue station. In 1997 the team gained an specially equipped 110 Defender Landrover which replaced the now very aged Fire Engine.
By 2001 the team was well established in the Gweedore area, but was not present in other parts of the county. This meant long response times to areas of the Bluestack and Slieve League areas. As a result the team radically restructured in mid-2002 to begin to develop an effective response strategy which would serve the entire county.
Since 2002 the team has developed its skills and experience considerably and the number of incidents it handles each year has increased. Team members now live and work across the entire county and we have five response vehicles positioned strategically to ensure quick, effective responses to incidents. It is now 25yrs since the first steps were taken to establish our team and soon we will be 25yrs as a fully recognised Mountain Rescue Team. Our first 25years have seen the team move forward from humble beginnings and we are now looking forward to shaping our future ensuring that we develop, maintain and enhance mountain search and rescue services in the county.


  • Telephone: Emergency Contact 999/112 & ask for Donegal Mountain Rescue Team
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Donegal Mountain Rescue

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