The history of organised Mountain Rescue teams began in this island in 1962 when the Mourne Mountain Rescue team was founded. The Kerry Mountain Rescue Team and the An Óige Mountain Rescue Team were later founded in 1966.
For almost twenty years the An Oige Team was the only organised mountain rescue service in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains. 1975 saw the Galway MRT being founded, based on the UCG and Sligo mountaineering clubs. Mountaineering clubs in Waterford, Tipperary, Clonmel and Kilkenny, prompted by an aircraft crash, set up the South-Eastern Mountain Safety Association in 1977.
Two more new MRTs, North-East and North-West, were set up in Northern Ireland in 1980, at the same time as the Northern Ireland Mountain Cave and Cliff Rescue Co-Coordinating Committee (NIMCCRCC). While the North-East team later stood down, the North-West team continues to cover counties Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh as well as assisting the PSNI team.A majority of the An Óige team left it and reformed as the independent Dublin and Wicklow MRT while the Glen of Imaal MRT was formed in February, 1983.
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) – now known as Mountain Rescue Ireland (MRI). 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 liaise with statutory bodies.
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.
The Mourne team covers the Mournes and Slieve Croob, with a secondary response to the Cooley peninsula and to Wicklow at the request of the Garda Siochána and the Dublin/Wicklow MRT. Based at the foot of Slieve Donard in the coastal town of Newcastle, The Team is made up entirely of volunteers who live close to the Mournes. Everyone in The Team has something in common in that they are highly skilled and experienced mountaineers willing to turn out in all weathers, day or night, every day of the year.
It would be normal that The Team is requested by one of the statutory emergency services, usually either by the Police Service of Northern Ireland or the Maritime Coastguard Agency, to attend situations where the circumstances require more specialist assistance. Our normal operational area would be in the Mourne mountains and surrounding region, however we also regularly go to incidents in other parts of Northern Ireland as well as help other Mountain Rescue Teams throughout the island of Ireland.