About An Mheitheal Rothar
An Mheitheal Rothar is a social sustainable enterprise focused on teaching repair skills and promoting cycling in Galway City.
At a 2010 meeting of the NUI Galway Ecology Society, the simple question ‘what fun initiatives could we pursue in the coming year which would have a positive impact for the local environment?’ was asked.
One of the ideas suggested was to establish an autonomous space where students could come and repair their bicycles in an environment which encouraged peer to peer learning, civic and environmental responsibility and empowered people in their own abilities. This simple idea would eventually become An Mheitheal Rothar – and went on to win the NUIG Students Union Enterprise Award.
Since their official launch, An Mheitheal Rothar has engaged extensively with their community, running the 'Youth in Action Project' in 2013, and working with the Youth Advocate Programme (YAP), Galway Community Circus, Street Feast Galway, the GRETB (Galway – Roscommon Education and Training Board), the NUI Galway University of Sanctuary Program and more.
After a period of rapid growth from 2018 onwards, An Mheitheal Rothar now includes their bike shop, in which you can get your bike repaired or purchase a recycled bike, and DIY workshops, in which you can learn how to repair your own bike. They also run an award winning circular economy initiative called ReCycle Your Cycle.
About the Team
As a social enterprise, An Mheitheal Rothar benefit from their meitheal of very dedicated volunteers, such as their volunteer bike mechanics who come in and teach people how to fix their bikes. Volunteer coordinators Felipé Loughran-Ponce & Conor Cahill ensure these DIY workshops run smoothly.
Lead Co-Ordinator Paul O'Donnell was a founding member of An Mheitheal Rothar and set up the bike recycling program at Dublin’s ReDiscovery Centre. Communications & Fundraising Coordinator Catherine Coote undertakes communications and media work and pursues funding opportunities. Together Paul & Catherine won the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Academy West top pitching award in 2019, securing €5000 in seed money for ReCycle Your Cycle.
In the bike shop are the three professional mechanics, Antony Oldham, Ben O’Connell & Jihwan Hong, who undertake paid repairs & services as well as teaching mechanic skills, overseeing and safety checking work on the ReCycle Your Cycle bikes.
Dr. Mary Greene
Dr. Mary Greene is an Assistant Professor at the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University, Netherlands. She researches and teaches in the field of environmental governance, development, sustainable production and consumption, social theory and research methods.
Mary’s current research interests focus on environmental governance sustainable consumption research. She is especially interested in the inter-relationships between socio, cultural and technological change and evolution of social practices in peoples everyday lives (such as food, energy, and mobility).
Dr. Sinead Mitchell
Dr. Sinead Mitchell is a lecturer in Engineering at NUI Galway. Passionate about sustainability, she is an experienced consultant in developing corporate sustainability strategies and embedding responsible and sustainable business practices.
Her research interests are in manufacturing, SMEs, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility. An Industrial Engineer by background, she has experience in healthcare manufacturing in large multi-nationals and has held previous roles in the third sector, in particular social enterprise development and female entrepreneurship support.
Frank Greene Chartered Director (C.Dir), also awarded LIB, QFA, & APA professional designations. Chairman of Galway Technology Centre DAC; Former President of Galway Chamber of Commerce and current Director; Director Galway Harbour Ltd; Director Chambers Ireland; Alternate on European Economic Committee (EESC); and member of National Monitoring Committee of Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020. Retired Senior Manager of AIB. A native of Kilkenny, Frank has a keen interest in Hurling, Rugby, Golf and Racing.
Niamh Kavanagh is an experienced accounts manager and bookkeeper.
She was selected for the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Academy in 2019 for her idea to start a Library for Stuff in Galway.
Tom is a Senior Project Manager with 3 years experience in Medical Device and 23 years experience in Defence Forces. He is a qualified Civil Engineer and has studied leadership development and mentoring through his time in the Irish Defence Forces.
Tom competed in the 150 mile Marathon Des Sables ultra Marathon in Des Sables in the Sahara Desert in 2014 and the 120 mile Jungle Marathon in the Amazon Jungle in 2016.
Dr. Eoghan Clifford
Eoghan is Senior Lecturer in Engineering at NUI Galway. His key research and educational interests lie in the areas of fluid dynamics, cycling aerodynamics, wastewater and water engineering and the development of tools and sustainable technology that can improve outcomes in these sectors. Eoghan is a 4-time paracycling world champion and 2-time world championship bronze medal winner (2014 – 2016). He also on a gold and bronze medal in cycling at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He has won races at national and international level in able-bodied and paracycling events.
Partners and Funding
An Mheitheal Rothar and the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre
An Mheitheal Rothar believe that the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) has helped them 'massively', as their association with the BIC has 'created a credibility' around their social enterprise. The BIC has also helped An Mheitheal Rothar with the business side of their company, from listening to their pitches to helping them structure their company.
"We're different from other start ups and I think it can be hard for people to get their head around the model... having the BIC say 'yes we're going to believe in you, we're going to take you in'...has just made all the difference."
What's Next for An Mheitheal Rothar?
Amidst the pandemic, An Mheitheal Rothar were successful in setting up a new bike shop on the Headford Road in Galway city. COVID-19 restrictions in fact benefited their business, with public transport restrictions causing many people to turn to cycling to get to their destination.
In 2021, An Mheitheal Rothar hope to get their DIY workshops back up and running. An Mheitheal Rothar are also looking forward to trialing some new technologies in 2021, with the help of Dr. Sinead Mitchell, which will allow them to increase the number of bikes that they take from the council waste amenity. A lot of these bikes are currently in too bad of a condition to be upcycled and they end up going to scrap. However, their new way of remanufacturing bike frames will change this. They hope to launch a new range of remanufactured bikes using this technology by the end of next year.