Copyright © 2007, Ballooning Ireland, All rights reserved.email : info@ballooningireland.ie
Foreword by Joseph Leahy

I got involved in ballooning in 1989 having always had a romantic notion, like everyone else of what it would be like to float across the sky in a balloon, even though I had never seen one in real life. Then by chance I was talking to a customer in our shop who worked in the air corp in Baldonnell who knew someone, who knew someone, who flew a balloon, (at the time I think there were only four balloons in Ireland) and that someone turned out to be Sean Hennessey who told me that on most weekend summer evenings they flew from Clonbolouge air field. So on a number of summer evenings Sheila and myself set off on a sixty mile balloon hunt, but to no avail, eventually on one summers evening, with a beautiful sunset, I watched two balloons sail off over the countryside, one was the "Club can special shape" flown by Tom McCormack, the other was Air Rianta balloon flown by Erne Sheppard and Kevin Haugh. Soon afterwards I joined the Dublin balloon club and had my first flight with Sean Hennessey across the bogs of Offaly and so began one of the great adventures of my life. I started training for my licence, mainly with Sean but also with Carol O’Neil, the only lady pilot in Ireland at the time and Tom McCormack who eventually sent me solo and with whom I did my "check flight" making me the first balloon pilot in Meath. I had my first flight as a pilot at the Irish Championships in Boyle Co. Roscommon in September 1993.


Having assisted at a number of Irish championships, I took my turn at running the 27th Irish meet in Killarney in 1997 and again in Birr Co.Offaly in 1998 ably assisted by Sheila Kelly and also Manus and Amber Hingerty.
In 2002, I once again agreed to run the Irish Balloon Championships in Trim Co. Meath, assisted by Sheila Kelly, Aiden Murphy and Pauline Baker. The event in Trim holds the record for the most flights at an Irish meet with 13 slots being flown by 38 balloons. The following year we moved to Kells in north Co.Meath, where we set another Irish meet record as the most balloons ever to attend, with 49 balloons registered. The next year, 2004 we were back in Kells again making it three in a row for Co.Meath.


Aside from running the Championships on five occasions, I have been running a much smaller meet called "The One man meet" for small balloons which is just a gathering of friends and this event has been held in Crookedwood, Co Westmeath, Killarney, Co.Kerry, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Drumshambo, Co Leitrim and this years event, 2007 will be held at the Newcastle House Hotel in Co Longford.


In 2004 I was made the Irish agent for Cameron Balloons. Cameron’s are the world leader in balloon manufacturing.

All this flying and all these events wouldn’t have been possible without a great team around me and my thanks go to Sheila, Emily, Gabriel, Beirne, Murial Wright, John Leahy, Seamus O’Brion, Mary Plunkett, Locky, Teresa O’Dowd, Tom Clinton, John Sheridan and Brenda Fitzsimons.