Prior to 1965 organised mountain rescue was practically non-existant in Ireland. If you required assistance, this was organised through local mountaineering clubs and local farmers.
It was a meeting of clubs and other interested bodies including the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team (formed in 1962) and the Tramore Sea & Cliff Rescue Team in Newry in 1965 that saw the formation of the Irish Mountain Rescue Association (IMRA). The objectives of the association is to assess and keep under review the requirements of Mountain Rescue services, to establish Mountain Rescue services as required to benefit the public and to act as a central organisation to liase with statutory bodies.
The Kerry Mountain Rescue Team and the An Oige Mountain Rescue Team were formed in 1966. For almost twenty years the An Oige Team was the only organised mountain rescue service in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.
The following few years again saw mountaineering club involvement with the setting up of the Galway MRT in 1975 in association with the UCG and Sligo mountaineering clubs, the South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association in 1977 at a meeting of clubs from Waterford, Tipperary, Clonmel and Kilkenny.
Because of the need for a quick response local rescue team in the Wicklow Mountains, the Red Cross Glen of Imaal Mountain Rescue Team was formed in 1983. Around this time the An Oige Rescue Team disbanded and reformed as the Dublin / Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team in 1984. Since then both teams work very closely together to provide a very efficient search and rescue service for the Dublin / Wicklow mountains.
In 1986, Mountain Rescue in Ireland became an official 999 service. (now also 112).
In 1993, the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) became members of IMRA. SARDA originally founded in Scotland uses air scenting dogs and handlers to locate casualties much more efficiently that human searchers.
Pat Holland (SEMRA) has begun work on a project to compile a history of IMRA and, to some extent, of MR in Ireland. He would be very interested to hear of any information, documents etc or to know of members and past members of teams who would be interested in reading and commenting on my text when it is ready. He can be contacted by sending an email through the 'Contact Us' page and this will be redirected to him from our office.
Much of the information above is courtesy of the Dublin & Wicklow MRT.