Address: Irish Seed Savers Association, Capparoe, Scarriff, Co. Clare, Ireland   Phone: +353 61 921866   Email:

Our Directors

Ted Brooks (Company Chairman)

Ted Brooks
Ted Brooks

I have been on the board of ISSA for the last 6 Years and took over from Tommy Hayes as Chairman in 2016. A strategic planning and finance consultant, I was born in Dublin and moved to Clarecastle 35 years ago to work in DeBeers/ElementSix in Shannon. I am married to Helen who comes from Newmarket-on-fergus and we have three adult children.

As keen gardeners we keep quite a large rural garden on the banks of the river Rine. My mother was also a keen gardener and we had chickens and plenty of vegetables and fruit from our garden in Dublin so I inherited the gardening genes from her. In fact on her side of the family were the Walpoles who created the wonderful Mount Usher gardens in Wicklow. I recently installed a polytunnel and have enjoyed the ease of gardening under cover! I’ve had success in saving tomato, cucumber and courgette seeds in recent years.

I was introduced to Irish Seed Savers through former manager Lisa Duncan, who participated in one of my strategic courses. Recognising the need for Irish Seed Savers to develop financial and strategic plans, Lisa asked me to join the Board. I liked the work being done in Capparoe and, after meeting Anita and Tommy Hayes, I felt that my skills could be of benefit. I have been involved ever since.

During my time on the Board, I have also played an active part on the Board of The Irish Environmental Network, the umbrella body that represents the main environmental NGO’s in Ireland. It has been an interesting insight into how other charitable NGO’s manage. I believe as an organization we compare very favourably to the best of the other environmental organisations and are quite unique in Ireland in what we have achieved so far.

Tony Kay

Tony Kay
Tony Kay

I have been living in Capparoe with my partner Trudy for some 37 years now, so we have been here considerably longer than Seedsavers! We have always had a vegetable garden which we worked organically and whose size expanded and contracted according to the amount of time we had available! Rather smaller now than in our early years of unbridled enthusiasm but in fact we find a smaller garden with more attention can be as productive as a larger one which is neglected.

The arrival of Tommy and Anita Hayes as neighbours was obviously an event of great interest to us, especially when we heard of their intention to start a seed saving operation! We joined as supporters at an early stage; and later I was flattered to be asked to become a Director. So we have been able to observe from a close prospective the development of the organisation from its humble beginnings to the vibrant and thriving entity it now is. Much credit for this achievement must go to the effort and commitment of the people who have worked there, past and present.

Until my retirement I worked as an educator, initially in Thomond College of Education later the University of Limerick lecturing to student teachers, food scientists, engineers and industrial designers among others. One of the main aims of Seedsavers is to educate the public on agricultural biodiversity and food security through information and workshops. Our education coordinator Áine Ní Fhlatharta, ably assisted by Jeanne Meyer, has shouldered this responsibility for many years now. We offer weekend workshops and a variety of school visits to the site. We also visit schools to deliver course and provide summer courses to primary and post primary teachers. So we are certainly doing our bit to spread the word!

If you haven't been to a workshop yet, what are you waiting for??

Patrick Killeen

Patrick Killeen
Patrick Killeen

Since 2010 I have been a Board Director, focusing on the commercial/financial area, and most recently have been the Company Secretary since 2015. My own background is in horticulture, starting with BSc Horticulture from the University of Essex, and then working as an organic Market Gardener in the UK, later moving to Africa to establish 4 large commercial organic veg farms & developing a number of smallholder cooperatives, with all soil fertility for production based on composting/green manures, for establishing a large composting facility. I followed this with an MSc thesis focusing on Austrian Composting Systems Technology. When I returned to Ireland I worked in the local development sector and occasionally consults on soil fertility for African horticultural projects."

I got involved with Irish Seed Savers through the development funding advice sought for the construction of the seedbank and rural tourism initiatives by previous manager Dermot McKinney. The infrastructure development of the 2010-11 modernised facilities in line with the required international standards for seed saving/storage and given the importance of our work in Ireland is vital for conservation of our heritage seeds.

The passion and commitment of Irish Seed Savers staff is probably our greatest asset and is unique in Ireland. The collaboration works undertaken with other organisations are critical in safeguarding open pollinated seeds and their dispersal among growers in the coming years, as the multinational's control of seed resources continues.

Christine Costelloe

Christine Costelloe
Christine Costelloe

Irish Seed Savers is an organisation I have supported since moving to Ireland from America several years ago. My engagement with the organisation started as a supporter and grew from there to being a workshop and event attendee, a fundraising and marketing advisor and I am now delighted to be serving on the Board of Directors. Through my Board role, I support Irish Seed Savers by advising on fundraising and marketing strategy and sharing knowledge about climate change, agriculture and food security.

The organisation plays a critical role in environmental conservation by connecting people to the importance of protecting Ireland’s food heritage and food security through education, outreach, research and organic seeds and fruit trees. From my very first interaction with Irish Seed Savers, I have been inspired by the dedication and skill of every team member to deliver on the organisation’s objectives. I have also enjoyed meeting the organisation’s many supporters who are passionate about topics such as growing, environmental stewardship, conservation and Ireland’s heritage.

Irish Seed Savers is entering an exciting time in its development and continued support will be vital for the organisation to meet its ambitious strategic objectives. Over the next few years, investments in education, outreach and research capacity, physical and technology infrastructure and development of the team will be required to achieve efficiency and impact. I am excited to support Irish Seed Savers’ growth as the leading food conservation enterprise, nationally and internationally.

Christine Costelloe holds a Masters of Science in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (MScCCAFS) from NUI Galway, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), a Bachelors in Economics, and is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).

Lynn O Keefe Lascar

Lynn O Keefe Lascar
Lynn O Keefe Lascar

My interest in Horticulture started as a teenager, as a rebellion against my techy family! I joined the Irish Seed Savers Association when it was just Anita and Tommy in Co. Carlow, before the current site was even bought. After school I went on to study an NCH in Commercial Organic Horticulture in Otley College in Suffolk and worked on organic farms in West Cork and Tuscany for several years. Then in 2005 I helped to set up a community orchard in Kinvara Co. Galway, and went on to run the garden for 11 years until it was sold into private ownership in 2015. In that orchard we grew about 50 Irish Seed Savers apple trees on a mix of root stocks and I learnt a lot about growing apples from that experience and from Roger Phillimore, a knowledgeable grower who was part of the community garden team. We were also seed guardians for the Irish Seed Savers in the community garden, and I attended the seed grower’s course in Scariff.

I returned to education in 2012 and studied for a degree in Amenity Horticulture at Greenmount College in Antrim. From that I got employment with the OPW as the Craft Gardener in the walled in kitchen garden attached to Portumna Castle. This is a bit of a dream job for me, I get to grow lots of fruit and vegetables but also flowers, shrubs, and trees. The garden is open to the public from Easter to Halloween, and I love chatting to the visitors about the garden and the plants and the wildlife that shares the space with us. I also teach with the GRETB a FETAC 4 course in Horticulture in Mountbellew.

Having always kept up my membership with Irish Seed Savers and a keen interest in the work they do it was interesting to be asked to join the Board of Directors as a horticulture rep. It's not something I took on lightly, as meetings can be just a way of keeping minutes and losing hours! But it's a good group that works well together and we've a very good chair in Ted Brookes. It's almost a year since I joined the Board and I hope to be a positive influence in the future.

Anita Hayes and Tommy Hayes (Founding Members)

About Image
Tommy and Anita Hayes

Anita Hayes was born in the American Midwest and moved to Ireland with her husband Tommy Hayes in 1989. During her studies in Ecological Agriculture at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington she was shocked to learn of the risks to food security through the loss of genetic biodiversity and began to focus her studies in this area. Inspired by the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa in the US, Anita found that there was no similar organization in Ireland. Acutely aware of the importance of the work, she decided to just give it a go in Ireland and so began Irish Seed Savers Association.

Tommy is former Chairman and a founding member of Irish Seed Savers. Tommy Hayes has been at the forefront of traditional Irish music for over 30 years. He has been a member of a number of ground-breaking bands during his career. He was a member of Stockton's Wing from the bands inception in 1977 to 1983 recording four seminal albums. He was also the original percussionist for Riverdance. The strong link between Traditional Irish Music and the land inspired Tommy to create a recent collaborative film, dance and music performance called Apples in Winter which is now available on DVD the proceeds of which are being donated to Irish Seed Savers Association.

Opening Times
Tues - Fri 10.00am - 4.30pm
Sat 12pm - 4.30pm
Closed Sun - Mon
Entrance to Organic Seed Gardens, Orchards and Woodlands is free to children & subscribers.

Irish Seed Savers CLG - Registered Charity Number 20045029, CHY 13989
Certified Organic Number IE-ORG-02 | Licence no. 5629 | Terms and Conditions | Privacy Statement | © 2019

This project is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development and Pobal through the Community Services Programme.

We confirm that our organisation complies with The Governance Code for the Community, Voluntary and Charitable Sector in Ireland.

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