Ailbhe completed her primary degree in science, specialising in zoology, at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, graduating with honours in 2002. She worked at University College Cork in Ireland from 2006 to 2010, completing a Research Masters in 2008 which examined the diet of harbour seals. Ailbhe completed her PhD in 2014, which examined the behaviour of migratory humpback whales off the east coast of Australia as part of the BRAHSS project.
Ailbhe worked as a scientific officer for B.I.M. (The Irish Sea Fisheries Board) as part of a project developing a pelagic system for the northwest pelagic refrigerated sea water fleet. She returned to the Zoology Department of Trinity College in 2005 to work as a research assistant on projects including a habitat and population study of the Irish otter, and a badger TB vaccination program. During her time in Cork, she worked on projects examining the population ecology of bottlenose dolphins, harbour seal foraging ecology, and the UCC marine mammal stranding program. Ailbhe worked both as a volunteer and as a research officer as part of the HARC and BRAHSS projects while at the University of Queensland. As part of BRAHSS she was responsible for running the land-based data collection platforms and coordinating up to 50 volunteers each year in the field. She also coordinated the behavioural response experiments as trial director in 2013 and 2014, and was involved in vessel based tagging, biopsy sampling, and focal follow of whales during the field season.
Ailbhe is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the Marine Ecology Group at the MaREI Centre, University College Cork, Ireland. Her current research examines the distribution of cetaceans in Irish offshore waters. The project aims to establish the spatial and temporal coverage of cetacean sightings data for Irish waters, and she is coordinating a program to target data gaps by deploying marine mammal observers on vessels of opportunity.