Helen McNamara


Here is the story of Helen, our training officer for many years, and her dogs Eiger , Bran and Screadhelenmacnamara

Hi my name is Helen McNamara,  Co. Tipperary, I join SARDA 14 years ago having met a founding member of SARDA Ireland in Blessington, Co.Wicklow while the South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association were assisting the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team on a search for 4 missing youths from Tallaght, Co. Dublin following a boating accident on the lake. Before I joined SARDA Ireland I was very interested in getting a pet but having heard a lecture on the advantages of using dogs to search by SARDA Ireland on Mountain Rescue in Waterford, I changed from wanting a pet to having a go at training a Search Dog.

I went along to their next meeting the following September and got a dog sometime later and started training her. She was a border collie from working stock but was unable to stop her working sheep and decided at 10 months old to give her to a farmer who would work her before I destroyed her completely trying to stock proof her.

I enjoy the challenge of training and the satisfaction of seeing a dog work on the mountain and watching great strikes on air scent. During my time in SARDA Ireland I have made great friends both here in Ireland and in Great Britain, having attended many training courses in Avalanche work and Disaster work. I have even been to Slovenia to sit in on an international training week with dogs from nine countries working together. I took great pride in knowing that our dogs here are equally as well trained as their top dogs if not better.

I have retired my Search Dog Eiger at 13 years of age and he enjoyed his well earned retirement after 10 years on the call out list and too many searches to count. My highest point to date with SARDA Ireland was our search in the Galtee Mountains for two missing men on Christmas Eve, 2000 when we located them safe and well at 2.00a.m. after 6 hours searching. Sadly, Eiger passed away in the middle of 2004.

My next dog Bran, progressed very quickly and was working at an advanced stage towards assessment however tragedy stuck and due to poisoning he had to be put down.

My current dog Scread is a border collie bitch from working lines she is two years old and her training is going well.