Our board

Meet the Board of Directors of Children's Books Ireland.

Patrick Thorpe, Chair

Patrick Thorpe is a chartered accountant by training holding an honours degree in Accounting and Finance from Dublin City University. Patrick also holds an MBA with distinction from Trinity College. Patrick is presently a consultant to and founding investor in a number of trading companies. Patrick works with a small number of not for profits in personal areas of interest. Patrick was appointed to the board in March 2017.

Anne O’Gorman, Board Secretary

Anne O'Gorman is an arts manager with a specialism in children’s and young people’s arts provision. Anne holds an MA in Arts Management and Cultural Policy and a Diploma in Transformative Leadership. She was Irish Animateur at the European Drama Encounter in 2004 and a member of the selection committee for Laureate na nOg in 2010 and 2016. She joined the board in September 2019.

Mary Watson

Mary Watson writes young adult and adult fiction. Originally from South Africa, Mary moved to Galway in 2009. Before writing full time, she worked as a lecturer at the University of Cape Town where she received her PhD. A mother of three boys, she is interested in issues that affect children’s reading, including diversity and representation in children’s fiction. She won the Caine Prize and has been shortlisted in the An Post IBAS, and for the Rolex Protégé Programme.  Mary joined the board in October 2021.

Sarah Williams

With extensive experience in project development and management in the Education, Business, Arts and NGO sectors, her strengths are in targeted networking, developing policies, identifying new areas of opportunity and demonstrating passion! Sarah is a storyteller, a collaborator and a strategic networker, who is the Development Manager with the DCU Educational Trust, supporting the philanthropic side of the University. Sarah joined the board in September 2019.

Niamh Feeney Stonehouse

Niamh Feeney Stonehouse is a book lover and an activist. As a member of Together for Yes, she focused on supporting campaign groups around the country. Since then she has been Secretary and a board member of the Abortion Rights Campaign. She has worked in the tech sector for 14 years, and has spent the last 10 building sustainable organisations. As a queer parent and a Gaeilgeoir, she is passionate about ensuring every child sees themself represented in a book. Niamh joined the board in October 2021.

Bernard Dunleavy

Bernard Dunleavy is a practising barrister. He was appointed a Senior Counsel in 2014. He is a graduate of the School of English at Trinity College Dublin and of the King’s Inns. He previously served on the Programme Board of the RHA and was appointed Chairman in October 2014. He was the founder of the #redTshirt initiative to raise consciousness in schools regarding the plight of refugee children. The father of four children with whom he has always read, he is committed to helping every child be a reader. He joined the board in 2022.

Mary Beare Aust

Mary Beare Aust is a lecturer, supervisor and researcher in Early Childhood Education at the South East Technological University – Carlow Campus where she has facilitated modules in Children’s Literature and Philosophy for Children. She is also a doctoral candidate at Trinity College Dublin. Mary is passionate about children’s books and the difference they can make to children living on the margins of society when they see themselves and their families portrayed in a positive light. Mary joined the board in 2022.

Madeleine Keane

Madeleine Keane is an editor, lecturer, and journalist. She was educated at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin. She joined the Sunday Independent in 1988 and has been its Literary Editor for the last 20 years. She presented a book programme for RTÉ TV (First Edition) and has written a non-fiction careers guide for teenagers (What Will I Be? Mercier Press, 1995). She has broadcast on books and publishing and presents at literary festivals and events. She lectures on writing at UCD and the Irish Writers’ Centre. She joined the board in 2022.

Alan O’Rourke

Alan O’Rourke is a mild-mannered marketing man by day, caped picturebook maker by night. He is an experienced business and marketing director working across the creative and tech sectors for over 20 years. A former BAFTA-nominated designer and current children’s book writer and illustrator, Alan joined the board in 2022.