Public Lecture - 'In Praise of Walking' - Professor Shane O’Mara

15 September 2022, 3pm-4.15pm

Organised by: Irish Gerontological Society 

Speaker: Professor Shane O'Mara

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The ‘In Praise of Walking' Lecture was delivered by Shane O'Mara, Professor of Experimental Brain Research (Personal Chair) at Trinity College, Dublin, and an expert on the benefits of walking.

Joined by a diverse range of panellists, the lecture was chaired by the President of the Irish Gerontological Society, Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny, and Deirdre Lang, Director of Nursing/National Lead Older Persons Services, Clinical & Integrated Programmes, Office of the Nursing & Midwifery Service Director (ONMSD).


Professor Shane O'MaraProfessor Shane O’Mara is Professor of Experimental Brain Research (Personal Chair) at Trinity College, Dublin - the University of Dublin; he is a psychologist, neuroscientist, and writer. His research interests focus on functions ‘within the brain’ (memory, stress, depression, for example), and on the ‘brain in the world’ (using a ‘brain’s-eye view’ lens on social, cultural, and policy issues). He has published more than peer-reviewed 140 scientific papers, and has written for many newspapers and magazines ((by-lines in, e.g., Foreign Affairs, Chronicle Higher Ed, Times Higher Ed, Project Syndicate, PsychologyToday, Irish Times, Sunday Business Post, Wall Street Journal). His book 'In Praise of Walking: A New Scientific Exploration' was chosen by the editors at as one of the best science books of 2020. (widely translated; French, Dutch, Spanish, Norwegian, Russian, Chinese, Greek, German, Polish, Italian, Slovenian, Romanian). His previous books are ‘Why Torture Doesn’t Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation’ (2015; Harvard University Press) and ‘A Brain for Business: A Brain for Life’ (2017; Palgrave MacMillan). He is working on a new book, tentatively entitled ‘The Stories We Tell: How we use memory to create shared realities, cultures, societies, nations, and know what is worth knowing’ to be published in 2022 by The Bodley Head/PenguinRandomHouse. He is a graduate of the National University of Ireland, Galway (BA, MA) and of Oxford University (DPhil/PhD). He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (USA), and is an elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He publishes a very popular, regular, newsletter at - small, medium, and large slices of writing on brains, behaviour, & lots between. Twitter: @shaneomara3; LinkedIn; Instagram; email:


Lorna King

Lorna King, MSc Nutrition & Dietetics Ulster University, H.Dip Health Promotion NUIG and BSc Nutritional Science UCC. Lorna is a CORU Registered Dietitian and has been working in the area of Dietetics for over 11yrs. She has worked in several specialty areas including Renal, Diabetes, General Medicine , Mental health and finally to her current role working as Clinical Specialist Dietitian for Older Person. Lorna works apart of the STEP (South Tipperary Enable programme for the Older Person) Team.
Lorna has a special interest in Frailty & the Older Person, looking at how inadequate nutrition can be a driver in the complex etiology of sarcopenia and frailty. She promotes the role of the dietitian within geriatric medicine though her day to day work but also as member & secretary of the OPNIG INDI SIG. Lorna’s work focuses on nutritional care to the older person , key components include looking at prevention of functional loss, maintenance of muscle mass and bone health and most importantly quality of life

Dr. Noel McCaffrey

Dr Noel McCaffrey is founder and CEO of ExWell Medical, a social enterprise that offers structured, medically-led exercise programmes in community settings to people with diverse chronic illnesses, on referral from health care professionals. He is also a consultant in Sports Medicine in Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital where he runs a musculoskeletal injury clinic and is a Foundation Fellow of the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine.
His main passion is ExWell and he is committed to the mission of making the service available through partnerships to everyone in Ireland and beyond who would benefit from it.

Dr. Elaine Murtagh

Elaine Murtagh is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Education at the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS), University of Limerick. Elaine leads the department’s Athena SWAN initiative (a gender equality charter for higher education) and is a member of the Faculty of Education & Health Science’s equality, diversity and inclusion committee. She holds a PhD in Applied Exercise Physiology (Ulster University), a PGCE in Physical Education (Ulster)and a Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning & Scholarship (Limerick).  Her research interests are in physical education, physical activity and health. She has a particular interest in the health benefits of walking, having originally completed her PhD in the area at Ulster University. Her research has contributed to the evidence base for the development of guidelines on physical activity by leading public health bodies in the UK and the US, including the US 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines and Public Health England’s 2017 Evidence Summary on brisk walking for health. Elaine is on the Steering Committee for the  WHO’s European network for the Promotion of Health Enhancing Activity (HEPA Europe) and is a member of the  North/South research, policy and practice knowledge exchange group for physical activity and ageing, hosted by the Institute of Public Health.

Claire Smyth

Claire Smyth graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in 2012 and has worked in a range of settings from acute, rehabilitation and community services. 
Claire currently works as a Senior Physiotherapist in Care of the Older Persons service in Beaumont Hospital but has also worked as a Senior Physiotherapist in Neurology, Complex Rehabilitation and Stroke in St. Vincent’s University Hospital.
She has a keen interest in Gerontology and Neurological Physiotherapy and has been a committee member on the Chartered Physiotherapists in Gerontology and Neurology, a subgroup of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapist, most recently serving as chairperson of this group for 2021/22.