Meet the Jigsaw Laois Offaly Team

Kate Brennan

Kate Brennan

Service Manager

I began my working career as a teacher with Limerick City ETB and worked with early school leavers in the Youthreach service in Southill, then moving to America and for two years worked with young people in a drug and alcohol treatment centre. I was promoted to senior caseworker in this unit and gained huge experience working in the sector with both the young person and their families, the American judicial system and education system. On returning to Ireland, I worked at Training Manager in Kilkenny city. I became a regional manager with Family Carers Ireland and a year later regional manager with the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, a position I held for 12 years, covering 6 counties in the South East and Midlands area and managing a team of over 100 staff. I attended Maynooth University completing a degree in Sociology and History and a postgraduate in Community and Youth work. Sometime later, I attended the National College of Ireland and completed postgraduate studies in Management and Employee relations. I am originally from Wexford, and my favourite book would have to be Pride and Prejducie by Jane Austen. Music-wise, I love Van Marrison and Bruce Springsteen and for films my favourite would have to be Roman Holiday. One piece of advice I would give my younger self would be to take every opportunity that comes your way to travel and see the world. Don’t worry so much about the little things it always works out for the best. Always wear sunscreen and you can NEVER have too many handbags!

Vanessa Dowling

Vanessa Dowling

Clinical Manager

I have worked in mental health for 24 years. I previously worked as Clinical Nurse Specialist in St Patrick Mental Health Services. I was responsible for the establishment and Coordination of the Depression Recovery Service. I also worked as a Cognitive Psychotherapist and Compassion Focused Therapy for many years. I am a registered Mental Health Nurse with a BSc in Health Promotion and Nursing Science. I also have a MSc in Cognitive Psychotherapy. I was born and reared in Offaly. I love to get lost in a good story book. I love children’s books. Harry Potter wins Hands down and anything by Roald Dahl. I travelled the world with The Counting Crows, Tom Waits and Christy Moore... and a bit of Metallica and Nine Inch Nails when I’m in the right mood. Ennio Morricone has had the power to touch my soul since I saw the movie Once Upon a Time in America when I was 10 years old. If I could give one piece of advice to my teenage self, it would be: You can stumble upon some of the most beautiful places when travelling through the darkest parts of the woods. Be true to yourself, get comfortable in your own skin and be kind to it because you will be wearing it for a long time 

Leona McManus

Leona McManus

Jigsaw Clinician

I completed my degree in Occupational Therapy in NUIG and graduated in 2013. I started working with the Jigsaw Offaly team as a clinical support worker in October 2017. As a clinical support worker I provide 1:1 support to young people attending Jigsaw to help them with any issues or concerns that they have in relation to their mental health. I’m an Occupational Therapist by background and prior to joining Jigsaw I worked with two different paediatric services for children and teenagers with disabilities. In terms of my favourite book, i've always enjoyed the Harry Potter and the Hunger game books. I also like to get stuck into a good thriller from time to time. With music, I love a lot of Irish bands. Anything from the Coronas, Hermitage Green, Kodaline or Picture This will get me singing along. In terms of advice to my younger self, don’t be afraid to take chances. The outcome might not be what you expect but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I’d also advise myself not to wear so much blue eye shadow but I guess if my teenage self didn’t wear it, my adult self wouldn’t have pictures to laugh back on with my friends.

Nicola Glynn

Nicola Glynn

Senior Jigsaw Clinician

Originally from Galway, I have worked in both Ireland and Scotland in the UK. I worked in a variety of areas in Ireland from In-patient acute wards to community settings. I moved to the UK in 2011 and worked in the main Psychiatric hospital in Aberdeen for 3 years. I worked in an acute geriatric admissions ward and also in an adult in-patient ward. Within this I worked with young people from the age of 16 years who were admitted to the ward. I am a qualified mental health nurse with a BSc in Psychiatric Nursing. I have also completed a Masters in Health Promotion. In terms of my favourite book, i'd have to do with The Book Thief. With films, I love both "What Dreams May Come" and "Gone with the Wind". One piece advice to my younger self would be that no matter how bad, things will always work themselves out. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re just figuring it out like everyone else and don’t ever regret the baggy jeans and band t-shirts, great outfit choice!

Angela Ryan Whyte

Angela Ryan Whyte

Youth & Community Engagement Worker

I have worked in the youth sector for many years facilitating youth projects primarily in the Arts & Community Sector. I was a founding facilitator with Offaly Youth Theatre, leading the Tullamore chapter of the group for six years and I remain on the board in an advisory capacity. I have also worked as Artistic Director of a multi – disciplinary touring theatre company, overseeing artistic policy, marketing, budgeting, tour booking & management, grant & festival applications. As a performer & workshop facilitator I have toured nationally and internationally. I also manage an annual playwriting festival. As an educator, I have worked with students from primary to university level. I hold an Honours B.A. in English, Sociology & Politics, an Honours M.A. in Drama & Theatre Studies and an Honours Higher Diploma in Education. I also hold a Certificate in Youth Arts and am currently training to be a Pilates instructor. My favourite book at the moment is the Gruffalo! In terms of films, i'd have to go with Moulin Rouge. One piece of advice i'd give my younger self would be to keep dreaming those impossible dreams – the world is more welcoming that it currently seems! Oh and open a savings account – your expenditure will increase with your advancing years!

Keith Simpson

Keith Simpson

Youth and Community Engagement Worker

Before Jigsaw I was involved in the youth sector, I have spent a lot of my career working with Special projects for youth(SPY) Garda youth diversion programmes(GYDP) and was the coordinator of a Targeted youth funding scheme(TYFS). I have studied in youth and community, business and youth justice. I am very passionate about youth participation and young people. I am a musician and played in many gigging bands over the years. I love listening to all genres of music but mainly rock. I really enjoy trying to play different instruments and challenging myself. I am a keen motorcycle enthusiast and like driving and restoring motorcycles in my spare time. I am also prone to motorcycle track days in Mondello Park and some motocross riding.  I also enjoy outdoor pursuits such as camping and hiking. One piece of advice i'd give my younger self is that when one door closes another will open, and enjoy the journey. 

Eimear Geraghty

Eimear Geraghty

Jigsaw Clinician

I trained as an Occupational Therapist in the UK and have worked with young people and adults in an eating disorder service and in an adult community mental health team before I started working as a clinician for Jigsaw. I have degrees in both Health and Social Care and Occupational Therapy and I am currently doing a Masters in Integrative Counselling & Art Psychotherapy. I love swimming in the sea, surfing, going to music festivals and being creative in any way I can. The one piece of advice I would give to my teenage self would be to remember that the difficult parts of life are the parts that make you strong and give you the opportunity to learn how to be kind and true to yourself.

Emma McBennet

Emma McBennet

Jigsaw Clinician

I am originally from Co Kildare but am now living in Co Laois. I am a Psychiatric Nurse by background having completed my training at Athlone Institute of Technology in 2006.  I worked for a time in both hospital, community and rehabilitation settings in the Kildare and West Wicklow service before being infected by the travel bug. I spent a year travelling, visiting South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia. I had a working holiday visa for Australia and I spent 6 months working in a hospital in Australia. My overall experience of travelling was very rewarding and hope to do some more someday. Soon after returning from Australia I moved to London. I lived there for over 6 years and worked in the area of Eating Disorders before returning to Ireland with my husband and family in 2018. I am delighted to be part of the Laois/Offaly team and feel privileged to work and support young people. I am also excited to be part of developing this service for young people in Co Laois.

Myra McDermott

Myra McDermott

Jigsaw Administrator

I have worked in administrative roles since completing my Certificate in Business Studies & Administration in 2001. Prior to joining Jigsaw I worked with the HSE at Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore. My favourite book which I read recently is “Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine” it’s a truly inspirational story about how a simple act of kindness changed her whole life. An incredible read. In terms of favourite bands, it's definitely The Cranberries, it was in fact the first CD I ever owned. I played it over and over again until my poor parents even knew the words of all the songs! When it comes to advice i'd give to my younger self, I would say to open yourself up to new exciting challenges, take the chances and never be afraid of making mistakes, it’s how we grow. More importantly, eat the cake, buy the shoes and surround yourself with the ones you love.