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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.

Jon O’Mahony– Co-Founder

Jon is our Co-Founder and is referred to by staff as the glue that holds us all together. Jon is heavily involved in the running of the club on a day-to-day basis and was heavily involved in developing the Music and Sports Adapted Program. Jon has recently began facilitating our really successful Regulation Training Programme for Parents.

Further Certificates:

  • 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.
  • Lamh
  • 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.

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.

Further Certificates:

  • People Management MTU level 7.
  • Parents Plus ppsn Facilitator.
  • Jigsaw self-care for teachers’ online workshop.
  • Jigsaw promoting and supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools online workshop.
  • Belong to eLearning. Supporting LGTBTI+ young people.
  • HSE Putting New directions into Practice eLearning.
  • HACCP.

Rachel Higgins – Assistant Club Manager

Rachel is our Assistant Club Manager and works closely with our club manager Emma with the day to day running of the club and all its social groups and activities. 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.

Further Certificates:

  • Living works start. Learning the tasc steps to recognize thoughts of suicide and engage safety resources using living works connect, Online Workshop.
  • Manual Handling.
  • Jigsaw self- care for teachers’ online workshop.
  • Jigsaw Supporting the mental health of LGBTI+ young people online workshop.

Tara Fitzgerald Murphy – Support Network and Resources Manager

Tara has been a part of the Rainbow Club family since we opened our doors in 2015. Tara is our Support Network and Resources Manager and runs all the Sibling Supports here at Rainbow Club. Tara is extremely passionate about other siblings receiving adequate support and making friends. Tara has a keen passion for the Sibling Workshops where she teaches children about ASD, mindfulness, self-care and emotional wellbeing. She has also assisted in the creation of a parent training program with our COO Molly. Tara also runs our ASD adapted Anime Club on a Saturday which has been a massive success!

Further Certificates:

  • Currently completing her Level 7 in Social Studies in University College Cork.
  • Level 6 Child Psychology.
  • Level 5 in Special Needs Assisting.
  • TEFL English Language.
  • Lámh.
  • ACE’S Trauma Training.
  • Certificate in Online Safety in Youth Work.
  • Certificate in Suicide Prevention.

Ken O’Mahony – Life Skills and mentorship facilitator

Ken officially joined our staff in late 2021 and has been a massive asset to our team in the support of our teens and young adults here at Rainbow Club. Ken is our Teen Hub Supervisor and facilitates all activities that take place within the hub!Ken rolls out a variety of activities within the Teen Hub each week including our very successful Gamer Café that he co-facilitates with Dylan , aswell as many social groups!
Ken has ensured that the success of Teen Hub is based on the safety, confidence & acceptance that the teens and young adults feel when they step foot in the door!
Ken holds qualifications in the following areas :

Currently completing his UCC Diploma in Youth and Community Work

Further Certificates:

  • QQI Level 5 in Substance use issues & Community Work
  • Get Autism Active Certificate
  • Get Autism Aware E-Learning course
  • Fundamental Movement Skills
  • Ken is also certified in CPR
Caroline Murphy our Senior Art Therapist

Caroline Murphy – Senior Art Therapist 


Caroline holds a Masters in Art Therapy and a Bachelors degree in Fine Art from Crawford College of Art and Design. She has gained extensive experience working with both adults and children.

A referral can be made for an Art Therapy session for a variety of reasons, including Anxiety, Depression, Personal or family trauma, Emotional difficulties, Behavioural issues, Challenging behaviour, Self-injurious behaviour, Emotional regulation, Sensory or processing difficulties, Suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation.

Caroline will available for any person in need of support through art therapy and we are delighted to say that the service is also open to the public.

Billy O’Brien –On site home tutor

Billy is our on site home tuition teacher.

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.

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.

Further Certificates:

  • Living works start. Learning the tasc steps to recognize thoughts of suicide and engage safety resources using living works connect, Online Workshop.
  • Manual Handling.
  • Parents Plus PPSN Facilitator.
  • HAACP.
  • Jigsaw self-care for teachers’ online workshop.

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, is 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.

Further Certificates:

  • Manual Handling
  • Jigsaw Self-care for teachers’ online workshop
  • Jigsaw Supporting the mental health of LGBTI+ young people online workshop
  • Living works start. Learning the tasc steps to recognize thoughts of suicide and engage safety resources using living works connect, Online Workshop.

Andrew Lawton – Additional Needs Assistant

Andrew is one of our Additional Needs Assistants and plays a key role in the running of our Orange and Violet rooms. 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.

Further Certificates:

  • Living works start. Learning the tasc steps to recognize thoughts of suicide and engage safety resources using living works connect, Online Workshop.
  • Manual Handling.
  • Get Autism Active Cork Sports Partnership.

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.

Further Certificates:

  • Living works start. Learning the Tasc steps to recognize thoughts of suicide and engage safety resources using living works connect, Online Workshop.
  • Manual Handling.

Charlene Torpey-Admin Assistant

Charlene runs our admin here at Rainbow Club. Charlene holds a very special place in the Rainbow Club Family. She plays a vital role in ensuring all queries regarding social groups, placements, etc are met. Godmother to an autistic godson, Charlene holds a wealth of knowledge about Autism and is always there to offer guidance should a parent have any questions regarding our services.

Charlene holds responsibility for liaising with our Centre and Club manager to ensure all supports and services are running efficiently each and every day.

Charlene can be contacted at should you have any questions or queries regarding our services and supports here at Rainbow Club.

Frances McCarthy-Admin Assistant

Frances joined the Rainbow Club Team in October 2021 and works with Charlene in the administration side of the house. She holds special responsibility for liaising with our Wellness and Regulation mentors and assisting them in the running of their programmes. Frances has the important responsibility of co-ordinating activities such as Lego and Arts & Crafts. Frances holds a wealth of office experience and enjoys liaising with parents and staff members to ensure all activities run smoothly and efficiently.

Francis can be contacted at should you have any queries regarding activities such as Wellness, Regulation, Lego, Arts and Crafts etc.

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.