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Our Team

Our Team

The Rainbow Club is run by an amazing team made up of Management, staff and volunteers. Take the chance learn more about some of the great people who work with us below!

Our CEO, Karen O’Mahony

Karen O’Mahony founded the Rainbow Club Cork Centre for Autism in 2015 with her husband Jon. They had struggled for many years to access services for their two sons Stephen and Sean. They found nowhere that could give their children an opportunity to learn social skills with their peers. Determined that children and families should not be missing out on the opportunity to enjoy childhood they began to work to create a model that could combine learning social skills, building skills to overcome the challenges of autism with  the chance to have fun and make friends. They knew that for many families isolation was a huge and heartbreaking part of the experience of dealing with a diagnosis. They realised that creating a community was going to be a crucial part of their work. Beginning with just a handful of other families, in just five years Karen has built an organisation that supports more than 400 children and their families every week. Over that time she has worked tirelessly to raise funds and build a staff of professionals and volunteers to provide crucial services in a thriving community hub. The overwhelming success of the Centre is a testament to Karen’s relentless drive and capacity to maximise limited resources. Karen is inspired every day by her boys to keep learning and keep trying. She understands the challenges faced by parents and carers who are trying to believe in themselves and find the courage they need to support their children. She believes that every child and family at the Centre is unique, special and deserves someone to fight for them and be there for them. Karen’s passion and vision are the driving force behind the Centre, as she inspires the staff and the families to have hope and determination to create a brighter future for children with autism in Ireland.

Emma O’Sullivan – Club Manager 

Emma took up her position as Club Manager with us in Sept 2019. She worked full Time in Child Care at a senior level for over 12 years. She has UCC Level 7 Qualification in Youth & Community Work, QQI Level 5 in Child Care, QQI Level 5 in Substance issues & Abuse in Youth & Community Work. She is also qualified in Lamh, First Aid, Covid Officer Trained, Child Protection Training, Child First Certified, Buntus Trained and has an Autism Studies Certificate. She has been a volunteer here at the Rainbow Club since 2016.

Charlene Torpey

Charlene runs our admin here at Rainbow Club, she can be contacted at or by Phone 0860805810

Rachel Higgins – Room Leader

Rachel has a Level 8 Degree in Early Years and Childhood Studies in UCC.
She was awarded College Scholar of the Year in 2018. A proud member of Montfort School of Dance and previously part of ELJ Academy of Dance.
She holds a Certificate in Autism Studies, Children First with Tusla and Covid19 Officer Trained.

Andrew Lawton – Room Assistant

Andrew has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Years from CIT and hasa  Nursing Studies qualification for College of Commerce. He is a qualified Health Care Assistant. Andrew also held a position of Sub SNA in Scoil Aislinn and has an Autism Studies Certificate.
Andrew also volunteered in Rainbow Club Teen boy groups since 2018.

Lisa Maher – Room Assistant

Lisa has a QQI level 6 in Early Childhood Education with Additional Needs.
She has qualifications in Lamh, HACCP Food handling certified, Beginners ISL, Paediatric First Aid, and Children’s First Certificate. She has also completed a Certificate in Autism Studies.
Lisa has also volunteered in Rainbow Club since 2015.

Leah Gannon – Room Assistant

Leah holds a Level 7 Bachelors Degree in Social Care from CIT, and a Level 6 QQI in Psychosocial Awareness and Training and a Level 5 QQI Applied Psychology and Social Studies from Cork College of Commerce.

She has been trained in Child First, has Epilepsy & Seizure training, First Aid, Manual Handling, Autism Studies Course, and Leah previously volunteered with Rainbow Club in 2017.

Katelynn Kelly – Room Assistant

Katelynn holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and Care (2017-2020, CIT), a QQI Level 6 Psychosocial Awareness and Training -full Award with Distinctions (2016-2017 CIT) and QQI Level 5 in Healthcare Support -Full Award with 8 Distinctions 2015-2016. She worked in Germany with Vincerola Bilingual Montessori Kindergarten Clevischer Ring 2020. She also has experience in Autism Studies, First Aid, Manual Handling, Child First, Bronze Gaisce Award. She began volunteering at Rainbow Club in 2018.

Jessica Barrett – Room Assistant

Jessica joined us in July 2020 as a Room Assistant. She has an Honours Level 8 Degree in Social Science in UCC and graduated in 2019. She was a volunteer Play Facilitator in the Children’s Ward in the CUH 2015-2017, and was also an elected Member of SpunOut. Jessica has volunteered in Rainbow Club since 2019.

She has achieved Level 1 in Sign Language, received Acheived the Gaisce Award in 2013, and has qualifications in First Aid, Certification in Child and Adolescent Play Techniques and Emotional Regulation, Certificate in AUTISM Studies Course, Covid19 Officer Trained, European Computer Driving License (ECDL).

Billy O’Brien – Sports and Recreation, Yoga and Wellness Coach

Billy has a Bachelor of Education Sport Studies and Physical Education at UCC.  He also holds Qualifications in Safe Rugby Level 1 CPR AED, The Leprechaun Rugby Coaching Course, State of Mind Level 1 trained, FETAC Level 5 Rugby in the Community, ITEC Diploma in Gym Instruction, Introduction  to Badminton Coaching, CPR 4 Schools, Child  Protection in Sport Awareness Workshop Certificate, Basic First Aid, Manual Handling and Child First, Introduction to Spike Ball Certificate, and Autism  Studies Course Certificate.

Noelle Rea – Accountant

Noelle started working in finance for an accountant in 2009 by starting a secretarial course. She finished her accounting technician course in 2002 and qualified as a Certified Public Accountant in 2007. She started working on the bookkeeping for Rainbow Club  in 2019.

Our Board of Management

Diarmuid DooleyChairperson

Diarmuid joined the board in January 2019.  Diarmuid currently works as an auctioneer with McCarthy & McGrath Auctioneers, Valuers and Property Consultants and he holds an NDip in Auctioneering, Valuation & Estate Agency and has over 20 years’ experience in the Cork Property Market. He is also a member of the Society for Chartered Surveyors Ireland and the Royal institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Gobnait BurkeCompany Secretary

Gobnait is involved with the board since its foundation in July 2015.  Gobnait is Deputy Principal in Cork College of Commerce and has an MA in Early Childhood Studies.  She also ran a successful pre-school service for 21 years, where her interest in Autism developed.  She also has taught in the Further Education for 19 years prior to becoming Deputy Principal.

Patrick CremenBoard Member

Patrick is a member of the board since July 2017.  Patrick is Office Manager with Cork Bonded Warehouses for nearly 20 years. Patrick was also involved in the setting up of the sports programmes in the club. He holds Buntus Sports Coaching  approved , Child First , First aid  and  Manual handling.  Patrick a keen GAA man has also been involved in the club and its groups over his time here.

Seán O’hUigínBoard Member

Seán is involved with the board since its foundation in July 2015 and was a previous chairperson of the board.  Sean has worked for Apple as Specialist for the past nine years and has several QQI level 6 qualifications.  He also ran a successful lighting solutions company and worked as Sales Manager in different companies for many years.

Jon O MahonyBoard Member

Jon is the Co- Founder and Vice CEO  of Rainbow Club Cork Centre for Autism with his wife Karen. He has been  involved with the board since its foundation in July 2015 and continues to be an integral part of  Growing  the Rainbow club. Jon. He is  now full-time Carer for the couple’s  sons  Sean and Stephen. Jon is heavily involved in the club on a day to day basic and instigated the Music and Sports programmes now successful programmes running at the Charity. Jon has a  background in Construction SEI Qualification, Certified courses in Autism, Buntus  sports coaching approved, FAI sports coaching course certified, Adaptive Judo certified, FAI licenced Coach programme certified, Trained in HACCP & BARISTA completed course, Paediatric First Aid, Child First & Covid-19 Officer, Chairperson of the Mahon Community Association LTD and part of the Community Response Team in Mahon.

Pat TorpeyBoard Member

Pat is a member of the board since its foundation in July 2015. Pat is a process operation for PepsiCo for 16 years.  Pat was also involved  in the setting up of Rainbow club as one of the founding team . He was also took part  in the setting up of the music and sports programmes in the club. Buntus Sports Coaching Approved, Adaptive Judo Certified, Covid19 Officer, First AID, Child First and Fire Officer in his job at PepsiCo. He holds qualifications also in FAI licences programme certified, Paediatric First Aid, HACCP Trained and FAI sports Coaching.

Martha TorpeyBoard Member

Martha is a member of the board since its foundation in July 2015. Martha a founding member of the club 2015 and Raising Awareness of Autism in Cork since 2009. She  has recently set up her own business The Right Wreath.  Martha has also worked in the retail sector for many years in various roles.  Martha is the volunteer liaison person on the board. She is Certifications in HACCP, Paediatric First Aid , Child First and Lamh.

Niamh BurkeBoard Member

Niamh joined the board in July 2020.  Niamh is a HR Business Partner with Brookfield Renewable Ireland and has an MA in Human Resource Management and is an Associate CIPD member. She has over 5 years’ experience in the HR field.