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History of Irish Reflexologists' Institute Ltd.


 History of IRIL Chairpersons


1995 - 1998  Kathy Foy Newman

1998 - 1999  Joseph McCormack

1999 - 2002  Lua McIlraith

2002 - 2005  Maura Murray

2005 - 2006  Lua McIlraith

2006 - 2008  Christine Higgins

2008 - 2011  Sile Leech

 2011 - 2014 Regina Curley

2014 -  present  Judy Buckley




How it all began.




Sr Rosario, Medical Missionaries of Mary, Drogheda, appeared on the Late Late Show, actually working on Gay Byrne, the Presenters feet. Thus achieved nationwide introduction.


Ursula Martin, a Swiss Lady, began to teach in Ireland around this time. She introduced what is termed the "Swiss" method of Reflexology. This utilizes the medium of oils and a circular movement on the feet.


Initially the The Society of Reflexologists had originally been formed in 1984/85 by graduates of the Bayly School of Reflexology tutored by Nicola Hall. They were Anthony Larkin, Gerry Longfield, Teresa Moloney, Annette Gardiner, Peter O'Donohue and Sheila Tracey. The name was registered with the Register of Business names in 1985.


They saw the need to form a professional body to cater for and oversee this therapy, which is comparatively new to Ireland. The Society maintained a register of trained practitioners, which the public could avail of, in seeking the services of a competent practitioner in their area.


Initially the Society recognised reflexologists trained in both methodologies but subsequently decided to recognise only therapists trained in the walking method. This left the Reflexologists trained under the Swiss method out on a limb.


The Aims of the Society

  • To help promote reflextherapy/reflexology professionally
  • To maintain a high standard of practise among its members by introducing advanced postgraduate courses.
  • To maintain a register of practitioners for referral purposes.
  • To disseminate information on reflextherapy/reflexology to the public and other interested parties
  • To encourage research studies and publication of such studies
  • To liaise with other reflextherapy/reflexology professional bodies

1988/89 Formation of The Irish Institute of Reflex Zone Therapy

In 1988/1989 The Irish Institute of Reflex Zone Therapy was founded by Roisin Carroll, Martina Barrett, Ursula Martin, & Eve Connell (RIP). This was formed in order to give a forum and recognition for persons trained in the "Swiss" method and any others who wished to join i.e those using oils and creams on the feet while treating clients, a concept not acceptable to The Society of Reflexologists. This was launched at the Natural Health Exhibition on St Patrick's weekend 1989. The main driving forces behind this organisation were Roisin Carroll and Martina Barrett. Between 1989 and 1991 several attempts were made to bring the two organisations together without success.


Also in 1989 Martina Barrett and Roisin Carroll, who taught courses in Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, had their courses approved by the Association of Reflexologists in the UK to ensure inclusivity of their students in NI. This was the beginning of an important bond of mutual co-operation and support between The Association of Reflelxologists in England and the Irish Institute of Reflexologists in Ireland.

1991 Formation of The Irish Council of Reflexologists

Members of the Institute of Reflex Zone Therapy and Society of Reflexologists came together eventually following stalwart work done by Sr Scolastica, a meeting was held in the Ashling Hotel Dublin in 1991 where proponents of those using oils and those using the dry reflexology technique agreed to the use of both methods and so the various members from both the Society and the Irish Institute of Reflex Zone Therapy agreed to work together under a new name and chose the title "The Irish Council of Reflexologists". Thus further the practice of Reflexology and regulate the professional and ethical standard of its practice. The unification of the organisations was partially achieved.


The main driving forces behind this organisation were Roisin Carroll, and Martina Barrett, using oils and Sheila Nugent & Valerie Mitchell both using dry reflexology. It was to Sheila and Valerie's credit that they stayed with the Council during the contentious "oil" versus "dry reflexology" issue and identified with the standards of the Council.


Actively involved at this time were Roisin Carroll, Martina Barrett, Valerie Mitchell, Sheila Nugent, Cathy Hogan, Siobhan Darcy-Bewick, Kevin Clarke, Frieda Cunningham, Sara Fitzpatrick, Valerie Henderson, Pat Roche. Maureen Nightingale. Kathy Rea Green joined in 1993.


During these years Martina Barrett, Rosin Carroll, Sheila Nugent, Valerie Mitchell , Kevin Clarke, Cathie Hogan and Kathy Rea Green filled various executive officer roles.


Formal co-operation between the Association of Reflexologists in teh UK and the Irish Council of Reflexologists were established with a view to exchange views and information on a more formal basis than heretofore.

The Aims of the Irish Council:

  • To be a non profit making and non sectarian body established to promote the growth of Reflexology in Ireland.
  • To co-operate with and support other bodies in the field of complementary medicine.
  • To regulate the professional and ethical standards in the practice of Reflexology.
  • To further the holistic approach to health.

From 1991 to 1994 further attempts were made to have all reflexologists recognised by one body but it proved unsuccessful. Disagreement on two main issues precluded any realistic attempt at merging. The first issue concerned the use of oils during a treatment and the second was the requirement of external examiners going into schools of both organisations to assess the standards of teaching.


However a number of the Society members did agree with the Council and tried to smooth the pathway towards a merge, however it became clear that these two issues were insurmountable. The Council eventually arrived at the conclusion that it was better to let the Society follow their chosen path, and the Council would continue theirs.

January 1992


Appointment of member, Valerie Mitchell, to represent Ireland at International Council of Reflexologists.

May 1992


On 14th May 1992 it was unanimously agreed by the Irish Council of Reflexology that the Schools affiliated to the Council would meet separately to establish a common basic curriculum, syllabus, and standards of teaching, examination procedures, and any other variables that may arise.

June 1992


The first meeting to discuss the setting up of a "Schools Committee" took place on 25 June 1992 with several follow up meetings resulting in a document presented at the Council AGM in November 1992. The AGM unanimously agreed that this format should proceed. It was also decided that the Schools Chairperson and Secretary would be independent of Schools.


The Association of Reflexologists in the UK shared willingly the work they had done which saved much time and effort. The level of co-operation between the organisations was very high in those formative years.


Roisin Carroll and Martina Barrett had been teaching in Northern Ireland and had been in close contact with the Association of Reflexologists in England from 1988. Through these years, the co-operation with the AOR grew and strengthened. At that time they were going through a similar process in England - the big difference was that they had far bigger membership, more funds, and were more organised. They willingly gave of the work they had done, so it saved us much time here. We were able to adapt their infrastructure to suit our needs. The opposite also held true as later we were able to assist them in various areas . The level of co-operation and interaction was very high in those years.

September 1992


The Irish Council was represented at the World Conference in Kos, Greece by R. Carroll and V. Mitchell. Where they gave a report on developments in Ireland and forged bonds with other international organisations.

October 1992


The Irish Council was represented at the Association of Reflexologists, AGM by M Barrett. At theis time major negotiations were being held with 10 other organisation representing Reflexology in the UK with a view to co-operation. Discussion also to place regarding the setting up of a European organisation. The outward looking attitude of the Council played a part in the formation of what is now the "Reflexologists in Europe Network" (RiEN) and was also the key to opening the dealock over the question of the use of oils in reflexology.


On the homefront in the same year attempts were made again and again to have all reflexologists recognised by one body but it proved unsuccessful. Disagreement on two main issues precluded any realistic attempt at merging. The first issue concerned the use of oils during a treatment and the second was the requirement of external examiners going into schools of both organisations to assess the standards of teaching.


However a number of the Society members did agree with the Council and tried to smooth the pathway towards a merge, however it became clear that these two issues were insurmountable. The Council eventually arrived at the conclusion that it was better to let the Society follow their chosen path, and the Council would continue theirs.


During these years a huge amount of work was done on trying to establish an organisation that was professional, accountable, etc. The big difficulty was that people were giving their time in a voluntary capacity, the membership was small and therefore the continuity was patchy.


The bulk of the work centred on the Schools Committee, and major work was done particularly by Pat Roche, establishing a common basic curriculum, syllabus, standards of teaching, examination procedures etc, with particular emphasis on the following areas.

  1. To separate the operation of individual Schools from the main organisation so no vested interests could be promoted.
  2. To have the Schools involved with the Schools Committee (a section of the main Committee), but with independent Executives who would liaise with the general committee.


This work formed the basis for the operation of all aspect of training reflexologists which continues to this day.


The continuing argument over the use of oils rumbled on and was one of the sticking points in any discussion on re-igniting the possibility of amalgamation of the two main groups. Close contacts had been built up with the AOR and also with the newly formed Europe and World organisations. Through these contacts the first breakthrough occurred in terms of the acceptance of oil use in reflexology treatments.

September 1994


The first European (RIEN) Conference was held in Newcastle England. A large delegation of Irish Reflexologists attended. This included reflexologist who were and were nolt members of the Irish Council. Sheila Nugent, the Chairperson, represented the Irish Council presented the report from Ireland. Martina Barrett presented the 2nd paper of the Conference " Reflexology and Relationships" and also chaired the presentation of the reports from the different European Countries.


This high level of involvement of members from the Irish Council in the Conference established our standing at a European level. This paved the was for the major refelxology organisatioon in Ireland to come together as delegates recognised "oil" was not the issue they believed.

Towards the end of the Conference a question and answer forum was held with leading lights of reflexology from different countries in Europe. The 2nd major breakthrough occurred when members of the Society present at the Conference put a question to this forum about the use of oils during reflexology treatment. The response of the general members of the forum was astonishment that this question needed to be asked. This form of reflexology has been used in Europe for ages - it was personal choice and did not matter if one chose to use or not to use oils so the answer to the question was fairly unequivocal. It also helped that the Council members and Committee were held in high esteem by so many other people and organisations in Europe. This more or less put the oils issue to bed and removed the final obstacles to amalgamation.

January 1995


A meeting between the Irish Council and the Society was held in January at the Ormond Hotel and plans were put in place to go forward with the amalgamation with the permission of the members of both organisations. Some members did not agree with this amalgamation decided to remain outside both organisations and went on to form small independent groups.

8 April 1995


The Irish Council held an EGM to dissolved the organisation. That afternoon the inaugural meeting of The Irish Reflexologists' Institute was held which united the two organisations. The 8th April 1995 was a very auspicious occasion for the Irish Reflexologists' Institute. A considerable amount of work had gone on behind the scenes, and everyone involved had invested a vast amount of time and energy into the whole process. To their credit we did it and were the only place to have one organisation to cover the whole of the country. Congratulations started coming in from all over the world and our organisation was universally commended as from its' inception, we managed to achieve, what seemed for some to be the impossible.

May 1995


The first committee meeting for the Irish Reflexologists' Institute was held at 2pm on 15th May. This was attended by most of the founder members.


New Committee:

Chairperson Kathy Foy Newman

Secretary Kathy Rea -

Treasurers: Valerie Henderson and Seamus O'Donaghue

Also present were Anthony Larkin, Doris Bernt, Imelda Moore, Phyllis Glynn, Tony Strand, Maureen Hastings, Annette Gardiner, Martina Barrett, Sarah Fitzpatrick, James Earls, Siobhan D'arcy Bewick, Pat Roche, Maureen Nightingale.

September 1995


Ireland was represented at the World Conference in Canada by Martina Barrett who presented a paper of her own work to the Conference as well as giving the report from Ireland.

May 2006


Irish Reflexologists' Institute takes on a Full Time Administrator Edel Myers. Then moves into its first Serviced Office in the Fitzwilliam Business Centre, Laurence Street, Drogheda.

8th and 9th September 2006


Irish Reflexologists' Institute hosts the 6th European RiEN Conference in the University of Limerick, Limerick City, Ireland. The Theme for the Conference was Alpha and Omega (The Begininning at the End)


Speakers from Ireland:

  • Dr Edgar Mocanu MRCOG.
  • Aileen O'Connor
  • Sheila Nugent
  • Jim Cosgrove
  • Carol Donnelly
  • Martina Barrett

European Speakers:

  • Lone Suzana Sorenesen Lopez
  • Sonja.Ban Capelle
  • Carlo Ongaro
  • Inge Dougans
  • Beryl Crane
  • Lynn Booth
  • Jan Williamson
  • Hans van der Werff
  • Leila Eriksen
  • Niels Viggo Hansen

The sucess of the conference was due to the dedication of Lua McIlrath and her team for the behind the scenes work which included, bidding for the event, obtaining sponsorship, finding the location, accomoddation and arranging the social aspect for the delegates.

11th July 2007


Irish Reflexologists' Institute Limited was registered with Companies Registration Office


First Directors

  • Christine Higgins
  • Sile Leech
  • Carol Barrett
  • Heather Bamford
  • Silvia Dunne
  • Lucy McCann
  • Sandra Harding
  • Nuala O'Connor

3rd November 2007


Following a Constitutional amendment it was agreed at the 12th AGM that Irish Reflexologists' Institute be dissolved and assets held in trust by Directors of Irish Reflexologists' Institute Limited. Transfer of Undertakings to the Irish Reflexologists' Institute Limited to take place at EGM on 27th February 2008.