Our Board

Majella McAllister, Chairperson

With a background in education, social entrepreneurship, Postgrad IADT, and Masters UCD, Majella specialises in creative, inclusive, integrative initiatives. Her digital Project 2020 for the MoCI began a worldwide initiative that foregrounded the voices of children during the COVID-19 pandemic, led to physical exhibitions across Ireland, the USA, Italy, and Nepal, and was shortlisted for an international award alongside the Rijksmuseum and the National Gallery of Singapore. In founding the multi-award winning Museum of Childhood Ireland, Majella recognises that she has been fortunate in bringing together a team of extraordinarily special people, all working together in a voluntary capacity to ensure that all children are seen and heard.

Wearing the ‘little yellow dress,’ and holding tight to ‘Ted,’ the photo illustrates an aspect of Irish social history that continued right up through the 50s and 60s in Ireland: The Parcel from America. The dress, still worn ‘for best’ until recently by children in our family, before being loaned to the Museum, was included in a parcel of items sent to my family, and chosen especially for me by my Paternal Aunt Norah Griffin, from San Francisco, as my 3rd birthday gift.

Denisa Breathnach, Secretary

Denisa is a reinsurance professional with extensive underwriting experience in the USA and Bermuda. She relocated to Dublin with her family over 5 years ago and since then she has volunteered on the board of several local non profit organisations. Denisa enjoys giving back to the community through her volunteering and appreciates the arts, the environment and children’s education and wellbeing.

Growing up as the second youngest of four siblings, I was the typical middle child. Never the baby, never the “reliable” oldest but almost always in some sort of mischief. My little sister and I are the youngest of the four, with a decent age-gap between the older two. So naturally we were always very close and the best of pals. One of my favourite childhood memories is getting our first dollies for Christmas, they were so pretty with their blue eyes and long, blonde hair. I remember being so happy that Christmas! One day, my little sister and I were playing dollies and I had the brilliant idea to play hairdresser’s. We had a great time, washing the dollies hair, cutting and styling away. I was so proud of our “hair creations”. That is until Mom came home and saw the pixie cuts on our brand new dolls… Needless to say, I learned that plastic hair doesn’t grow back 🙂

Niall Wallace, Treasurer

A career banker, Niall has extensive financial management experience in particular in the areas of Finance and Treasury. He has a keen interest in corporate governance and is a Certified Bank Director. He is also a director of companies in the not for profit sector. Niall likes the outdoor life and spends time playing golf, tennis, hill walking, and exploring the West of Ireland.

My bike was my favourite childhood toy.  I was an avid reader as a child, I think I tracked down every Billy Bunter book ever written. After that I was a big Biggles fan…

Cian Spillane, Governance Lead

Cian recently commenced a role as Manager of the Registrars Office in the National University of Ireland. Prior to this, Cian was the Head of Risk & Compliance for Sport Ireland, where he worked for 6 years. Cian joined the Board of the Museum in April 2021. Cian’s primary area of expertise as a Board member is maintaining and improving standards of governance by the organisation. In his spare time, Cian is an enthusiastic fencer with an active lifestyle who follows the fate of Leeds United and the Cork hurling team ardently. 

The childhood picture is of me “baking for the birds” which was a regular activity that my grandmother used to indulge me with. Those crows have given me some of the best feedback on my cooking!

Sinéad Casey, Operations Lead

Sinead has over 20 years experience working in strategy, research and project management, most recently at RTE.  She’s passionate about innovation, creativity and problem solving. She holds a Masters in Psychology, a Diploma in Leadership and volunteers for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. She is an avid reader, an avowed feminist and is interested in all things culinary from baking to fermentation. She loves being outdoors, be it to the mountains, forest or sea.

When we were small we used to holiday in my aunt’s cottage in Donegal. We met this little donkey on the windy roads as we were adventuring one afternoon and Dad decided that we should all have a go on his back. After my two sisters and brother hopped on, it was my turn. This photo was taken just before the donkey decided that he’d had enough and decided to take off at full tilt, with me hanging on to his mane for dear life and Dad running beside him trying to lift me off.

Sorcha Kavanagh, Strategy Lead

Sorcha is a Senior Project Manager in the IT sector. She joined the museum as Lead of the Strategy Team in September, 2021. Through her background in project management, Sorcha looks to turn chaos into productivity. She holds a degree in Computer Science and a Master’s in Business and Entrepreneurship.

One of our favourite games as children growing up in Arklow was to play night chase! Sent out to play after school, we would not be called back in until after dark.

One of my fondest memories is of getting all dressed up to be a bridesmaid at my aunts wedding.  

Here I am looking pleased as punch and posing with my wonderful father.

David Kitching, Communications & Public Affairs Lead

David’s background is in strategic communications, research and public policy. In 2020, he founded Bassline Strategy, where he advises socially impactful organisations in Ireland and internationally. He has worked for two of Ireland’s foremost communications agencies and in community radio, and spent a decade overseas, as research director at a London start-up and as a policy advisor at a think tank in Brussels. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and a BA from University College Dublin. He enjoys music and GAA, both as spectator and participant, and occasionally appears as a political analyst for international media outlets.

Growing up in rural Mayo, our house was beside a small sunken site we grandiosely called “The Valley”, where this photo was taken. My friends and I spent countless hours playing there, swinging on a tyre from an old sycamore, building huts, and concocting thrilling adventures. For all the sensation of independence and wild escape, I realise now, with amusement, how many of my parents’ odd jobs happened to focus on the laneway directly overlooking us. Though an illusion, the feeling of freedom meant a great deal and the memories persist.  

Professor Mary O’Dowd, History Team Lead

Mary O’Dowd is an emeritus Professor of History at Queen’s University of Belfast. She has published books and articles on the history of women and gender in Ireland. She has also written about the history of boys and girls in Ireland from the sixteenth through to the eighteenth century. She has served on a number of public committees including the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the Board of the National Museum. She was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2010 and currently holds the voluntary office of Secretary of the Academy.

My favourite childhood book was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a fantasy novel by C.S. Lewis, illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and first published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first and most popular of the 7-book Narnia series.

Dr Eemer Eivers, Education Team Lead

Eemer is Director of the team evaluating Dublin City University’s Futures initiative, and an independent research consultant. Her interests include programme evaluation, early school leaving, and structural aspects of education systems (she insists the latter is much more interesting than it sounds!). She has worked in educational research for over 25 years, and has contributed to significant policy changes affecting children’s lives in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Malta. 

Scamp arrived in our house shortly before I was born and lived long enough to see me off to college.  Free spirit, escape artist, brilliant footballer, hearing so sharp she could hear a sweet being unwrapped in the next county, robber of meat from the local shop. Infamously escaped our locked house to have a wander round the altar during mass. And of course, me, the mortified youngest, was sent up to catch her. Forgiven, but not forgotten.

Ciara Conway, Children’s Rights Team Lead

Ciara Conway holds a degree in public and social policy and a masters in social work. Previously Ciara worked  for Tùsla and Barnardos in the area of family support. Ciara is a former TD in Dàil Eireann, elected to represent the constituency of Waterford and the first woman to do so after a gap of 59 years. Ciara, a feminist and a passionate advocate for equality, is a huge fan of swimming in the sea and supporting Waterford GAA!  Ciara currently works in the Medical Technology Sector in Public Affairs. Ciara’s role is to engage with a broad range of  stakeholders, to work jointly to develop strategies for a more resilient healthcare systems. Ciara has worked at EU, institutional and national government level in the area of healthcare policy.

One of my favourite childhood memories is ‘playing on the road.’ I grew up in Tramore and we were always out playing. From making dens, playing ‘tip the can’, skipping, elastics, hop scotch, bikes, roller- skates, to you name it, we were always out on the road with a great gang of friends.

A photo of some of the gang from the road. I am the one with the blonde ponytail. 

Waterford City Building – Museum of Childhood Ireland & Waterford County Council working group:

Morris Conway, Waterford CC

Éamonn McEneaney, Waterford CC

Rupert Maddock, Waterford CC

Ciara Conway, Museum of Childhood Ireland

Niall Wallace, Museum of Childhood Ireland

Majella McAllister, Museum of Childhood Ireland