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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 to 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 518 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 September 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-Admin Assistant

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

Rachel Higgins – Additional Needs Supervisor

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 – Additional Needs Assistant

Andrew has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Years from CIT and has a Nursing Studies qualification from the 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 – Additional Needs Assistant

Lisa has a QQI level 6 in Early Childhood Education with Additional Needs.
She has qualifications in Lamh, certified in HACCP Food handling, 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.

Katelynn Kelly – Additional Needs Assistant

Katelynn holds a BA in Early Childhood Education and Care (2017-2020, CIT), a QQI Level 6 Psychosocial Awareness and Training (a 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 the Rainbow Club in 2018.

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

Billy has a Bachelor of Education in Sports Studies and Physical Education from 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.

Jessica Barrett – Additional Needs Assistant

Jessica joined us in July 2020 as an Additional Needs 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 at the Rainbow Club since 2019.

She has achieved Level 1 in Sign Language, received 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).

Dawn McCarthy Gosnell– Additional Needs Assistant

Dawn joined our team in May 2021 and holds a Level 5 in Early Childhood Studies and a Level 5 Care of the Older Person.
Dawn is Child First Certified /Child Protection, First Aid Certified, Manual Handling and HACCP Food Handling Certified

We are delighted to have Dawn join our Team here at Rainbow Club

Dylan Quinlan– Additional Needs Assistant

Dylan joined our team in May 2021 and holds a B.Eng .(Honours ) Degree in Biomedical Engineering from CIT.
Dylan also has a Level 5 in Community Health, is Child First Certified / Child Protection, EFR Certified, Shallow-Water Lifeguarding Qualified, completed Autism in Sport Workshop, and is the facilitator of Gamer Cafe Rainbow club.

We are delighted to have Dylan join our team here at the Rainbow Club.

Shinaine Batten Philips– Additional Needs Assistant 

We are delighted to welcome Shinaine Batten Philips to our Team as an Additional Needs Assistant. Shinaine joined our team in June 2021.

Shinaine holds a Level 5 in Early Childhood, knowledgeable in Paediatric First Aid, Children First Certified, Lamh Trained, Cork City Garda Youth Awardee and has been a member of Youth Club Cafe Committee.

We are delighted to have Shinaine on our team.

Jon O’Mahony– Head Sports Coach

Jon is heavily involved in the club on a day-to-day basis and was heavily involved in developing the Music and Sports Adapted Program.

Jon has a background in Construction SEI Qualification.
Certified courses in Autism.
Buntus Sports coaching approved.
FAI Sports Coaching Certified.
Adaptive Judo Certified.
Early Bird Program Completion.
Hanen Talkabity & More Than Words course.
FAI licensed Coach Program Certified.
Trained in HACCP & BARISTA courses.
Get Autism Active Certified.
Pediatric First Aid.
Child First & Covid-19 Officer.
Participant on Community Response.
Chairperson at Mahon Community Centre.

Simon Kennedy– Junior Sports Coach

Simon graduated from UL in NCEF Exercise & Health Fitness with a qualification in Gym Instructor / Personal Training.
Certificate in Exercise & Health Fitness, Get Autism Active Certified and Child First Certified.
Simon has the Autism Sports Workshop completed, is First Aid Certified, has Certificates in FAI Coaching and Silver Survive & Save Medallion Award.

Simon is currently awaiting his Level 6 in Exercise & Health Fitness.

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 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 programs 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 a Specialist for the past nine years and has several QQI Level 6 qualifications.  He also ran a successful lighting solutions company and worked as a 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 a full-time carer for the couple’s sons Sean and Stephen. Jon is heavily involved in the club on a day-to-day basis 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 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 the Rainbow club as one of the founding team. He 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 an 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 of experience in the HR field.