Our Team

Jennifer McConnell (General Manager)

Jennifer has been with Irish Seed Savers Association as General Manager since February 2017.

Initially coming on board for a 2 year term, she was brought in to strengthen the organisations financial and operational stability after we experienced a turbulent number of years. Jennifer’s remit as General Manager is also to develop our strategic sustainability, increasing our relevance in protection of our seed and tree collections as well as contributing to our work with the Department of Agriculture, Irish Environmental Network, and European Seed Projects.

A supporter of Irish Seed Savers for a number of years, prior to joining us Jennifer held senior management roles in development organisations in Papua New Guinea, and HR roles in Jamaica and Haiti. Jennifer’s focus has primarily been on team development and operational strengthening, particularly through times of change management for organisations. Her previous roles in Ireland were in entrepreneur development, event management, and public relations.

Jennifer was also voluntary Board Director for Healthy Food for All which was a policy group focusing on addressing food poverty in Ireland.

Jennifer has an academic background in Anthropology, Business, Geography and Development.

With an avid interest in travelling, learning, reading and exploring new opportunities, Jennifer has travelled extensively and is one day hoping to document these adventures.

In an effort to strengthen her support of the work of Irish Seed Savers, since she began with us Jennifer has completed the Charities Institute of Irelands Certificate in Fundraising, and is currently participating in the 2 year QQI Level 5 Organic Horticulture programme in The Organic College in Dromcollagher, Limerick.

Jeremy Turkington (Orchard Curator)

From Lisnanane in Co Tyrone (Within the Arch Diocese of Armagh) Jeremy grew up in a rich orcharding tradition. Jeremy has completed FDSc in Rural Development and Countryside Management from Greenmount Agricultural College in Co Antrim and is a postgraduate from Myerscough Arboracultural college Lancashire. With BSc in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. Jeremy has a deep connection with Orchard conservation in Mid- Ulster and considers the Apple and the Oak to be the very essence of Irish heritage.

Jason McCormack (Nursery and Orchard Assistant)

Jason Anthony Aloysius McCormack was born in Bray County Wicklow. Jason spent much of his childhood in his mother’s flower shop, Golden Flowers,  and worked on and off at his Granddad’s ornamental plant nurseries, Seaview Nurseries in Wicklow. Jason has also worked as a gardener at Powerscourt Gardens and with Tree Safe Ireland. Apart from horticulture, Jason enjoys pursuing interests in music, folklore, traveling and enjoying the finer things in life. Jason returned to Horticulture in 2015 after completing the Level 6 Organic Horticulture course at Westport College of Further Education. In 2016 Jason completed the OGI internship at Ballinroan organic farm in County Wicklow and in 2020 completed a masters degree in Organic Farming and is committed to the process of life long learning.

Joanne Newton (Seed Curator)

With a long held passion for organic gardening, and learning the stories of our heritage, Joanne (Jo) has worked with Irish Seed Savers since 2001. Moving to Ireland in 1993, her background was in horticulture, working with the land and connecting communities with the importance of locally grown food.

Over the years Jo has mentored and trained growers of all ages throughout Ireland and the UK in understanding the importance of seed in the food cycle. Teaching the basics in growing food to understanding the intricacies of growing seed for saving, sharing and feeding our communities, through her role as curator of Irelands heritage seed collection, Jo is very active in sharing her knowledge and imparting her wisdom to the stories behind our rich cultural heritage and the importance food plays in our cultural identity. Jo leads the team of 4 in seed growing, and cur

Deirdre Morrissey (Seed to Seed Assistant)

After a decade of working internationally in the corporate sector (Vietnam, USA & UK) Deirdre returned to Ireland in 2007 and spent 5 years working in the not-for profit sector in Dublin for Comhlamh (the Irish Association of Development Workers and Volunteers), working in the areas of trade justice, development education and support services for returning volunteers.

In 2012 Deirdre, her husband and young son moved to East Clare to seek out a more ethical, community based lifestyle and spent 5 years growing vegetables for self-sufficiency and milking goats. She re-trained in Organic Horticulture at Dromcollagher Organic College and joined Irish Seed Savers in 2017 as Seed to Seed Assistant. She and her family share a garden and polytunnel with neighbours and she is a strong advocate of community gardening and gardening for well being.

Tristian Lienhard (Head Gardener)

My horticultural journey started with a 2 year biodynamic apprenticeship, the 1st year of which was on a 300 acre mixed farm in East Sussex and the second year in a 2 acre Victorian walled garden in Scotland, growing medicinal herbs for processing. I moved to Ireland in 2003 where I completed the Royal Horticultural Society’s level 2 certificate while setting up and running my own garden design and landscaping company – Wandering Gardens. In 2017, I completed a BA degree in Early Childhood Care and Education at Mary Immaculate College. I am delighted to now be involved with saving seed in these times of diminishing diversity.

Felice Rae (Garden Assistant)

Felice Rae has been here in Ireland for the past 23 years on the shores of Lough Derg and has been working at the Irish Seed Savers Association since 1999. She loves her job in the gardens propagating the soft fruit and also works with the seeds.

Recently she has taken on facilitating the groups from Enable Ireland in our Horticultural Therapy Unit and also enjoys working alongside the new volunteers .

Joe McGrath (Garden Assistant)

Joe McGrath is a native of Bodyke and has been here with us around 11 years now, he is a handy guy to have in the gardens. His main job is to keep the paths clear and mow around the beds he certainly keeps the gardens looking smart.

He also helps Felice in the horticultural therapy tunnel when the Enable Ireland folks come for their visits throughout the year.

Áine Ni Fhlatharta (Education Coordinator)

Áine Ni Fhlatharta is from Carraroe, Co. Galway in beautiful Connemara, she is a former student from An T-Ionad Glás Dromcollagher. It was on a visit here as a student she was so inspired by Tommy and Anita’s work that she moved to Co.Clare to get involved ,her background is in political and environmental campaigns and has been facilitating ecological workshops for children for over 10 years.

Is our resident Education Coordinator working with the many primary schools in the surrounding area; Children often have a visit in their school and sometimes they manage to get a day out here to see and feel the natural biodiversity of our site. Áine has just begun a new program incorporating the leaving cert students which we are all very pleased about.

Liz Bacon (Education Officer)

Liz loved drawing and painting from a young age and dreamt about going to Art college. The dream became reality and she completed her degree at Limerick School of Art & Design in 2006. After this, another dream had formed. She spent the next 10 years traveling, teaching and studying in South America, New Zealand and Asia. Liz volunteered at Permaculture farms and intentional communities along the way which greatly inspired her vision for the future.

One of the schools Liz worked in was a Montessori primary school. This method of child centred education greatly influenced her teaching style. She developed an organic garden and a curriculum based around food security, ecology and natural resources for the students, which they still use today. Over the years, she has studied Permaculture, Horticulture, Organic Food production and market gardening. Liz recently completed a yearlong course with Gaia Education on Design and Regenerative Systems in association with Findhorn Eco Village.

Since returning to Clare three years ago and doing an apprenticeship with an organic grower, she has been developing her own market garden, selling locally and offering nature based workshops.

Jeanne Mérer (Workshop and Events Officer)

Jeanne is originally from France but has felt more at home in Ireland since 2000 when she first arrived in Dublin port. With a graphic design degree under her belt, she navigated the visual art and dance scene in Dublin for 9 years.

Strange and wonderful circumstances wooed her back to France for a life changing experience on a vineyard. This served as a major eye opener regarding modern agricultural practices, what we eat, how we grow and forage food, how we relate to the earth. On her return to Ireland in 2016, she moved to the Cloughjordan ecovillage in Co. Tipperary and was delighted to join the Irish Seed Savers team as Education Assistant.

Coordinating the big workshop weekends here is one of many ways she plays her part in today’s environment and an opportunity to support such a beautiful and life sustaining place in Scariff.

Peter Couchman (Marketing & Development Coordinator)

Born in London and living in North Tipperary, Peter spent most of his career in the co-operative movement, helping co-ops around the world to share their values and make the most of their membership. He served as Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation for eight years, helping to spread the message of the pioneer of Irish co-operatives, Sir Horace Plunkett that rural communities can save vital services, such as shops and pubs, by working together. He co-founded an organic salad business in 2017, winning a prestigious Blas na hEireann Award for their work.

Barry Foley (Marketing and Sales Officer)

Barry is a native of Tipperary Town but is now based in the Burren in Co Clare. Having attained a Masters Degree in Digital Arts from the National College of Art & Design in 2007 he worked as a supervisor for Irelands Eye and Assistant Director at the Limerick City Gallery of Art.

Barry began working for Irish Seed Savers in 2014 and his dedication and commitment has made him an integral part of our team.

Tansy Watson (Marketing and Sales Officer)

Tansy is local to Co. Clare, growing up in Tulla, only down the road from Irish Seed Savers. She is a past pupil of the Raheen Wood Steiner School in east Clare.

She graduated with honours from the Limerick School of Art & Design in 2008 and has had a career in Graphic Design since 2009.

Tansy began working for Irish Seed Savers in January of 2014 as part of the sales development team and as their in-house designer.

Lisa Kelly (Conservation Administrator)

A native of Cork City, Lisa has been with Irish Seed Savers Association since 2019.  A recent transplant to East Clare, Lisa has an avid interest in heritage and conservation and is passionate about nature and the environment.

With an honours degree in History and Celtic Civilisation from University College Cork, numerous qualifications in Business Administration and extensive retail experience, Lisa has strong research and organisational abilities and excellent customer relations skills.  Lisa divides her time between two roles in the association, conducting research in the seed bank and looking after the supporters who contribute to our vital conservation work.

Marrianne Cronin (Administration Coordinator)

Marrianne is from Cork originally and arrived in Clare with her family in 2000 via London! Joining Seed Savers in June 2011, Marrianne was initially brought on board to administer our Department of Agriculture, Pobal and LEADER grants and has since added a few more strings to her bow.

She does a lot of our proof reading and actually knows the difference between eminent and imminent, but don’t hold it against her. She is efficacious, indefatigable and always has her brightness setting turned up full!

When she is not working, Marrianne likes gardening (organically of course!), knitting, singing and reading and lives in Tuamgraney with her husband and two cats, her children having flown the nest.

Gemma Sidney (Sales Assistant)

Originally from south Wales, Gemma has spent most of her working life at one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms in London and Dublin. After having children and settling in Clare, Gemma decided to follow her heart and swap the corporate reception desk for our reception desk here at Irish Seed Savers.

Gemma is passionate about nature and environmental issues and knows a thing or two about apple trees too! When she is not working in our shop she volunteers for an international NGO. She can often be found pottering about in her garden or in a forest somewhere indulging in her passion of photographing mushrooms.

Gillian Lattimore (Marketing and Fundraising Officer)

Gillian is a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Ireland, Secretary of the ICOMOS Ireland World Heritage Working Group and a member of the ICOMOS Ireland National Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage. Prior to joining Irish Seed Savers in September 2020, Gillian worked as an administrative consultant for ICOMOS Ireland. Gillian has completed a Bachelor of Business Degree and a post graduate certificate in World Heritage Conservation at University College Dublin and a master’s degree in Digital Cultures at University College Cork.