Around 200 people climbed Croagh Patrick on Saturday afternoon in memory of mountaineer and adventurer Ian McKeever, and the positivity of the event would have delighted him, say organisers.
Wicklow resident Ian McKeever died tragically when he was struck by lightning as he climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at the start of January. He was well known in Mayo for climbing Croagh Patrick. He set one of his many records when he climbed the Reek 35 times in 80 hours during the Croagh Patrick Seven Day Challenge for Autism in March 2011.
Friends and acquaintances of Ian McKeever travelled from all over Ireland and abroad to attend the special memorial climb. An estimated number of 200 people turned up for the climb. Among them was Paul Devaney, who will be attempting the International Seven Summits Challenge, and who travelled from Berlin to make the climb.
Organiser Matt Loughrey told The Mayo News he was stunned by the turnout, which had exceeded his expectations. He said there was great positivity about the climb, with a number of people recalling there fond memories of Ian McKeever.
“It was a wonderful day and the turnout was greater than I expected,” Matt explained. “I was expecting 60 or 70 people tops to turn up, and I was blown away with the turnout. Paul Devaney came from Berlin for the climb, and others came from Dublin and other places around Ireland. It was a really fun and special day, and everyone who took part got something positive from the day.
“We had a group photograph at the top and we were all laughing and smiling because that is what Ian would have wanted, and we all shouted his names to the heavens. It was a fitting tribute for Ian … he would have loved it.”
Matt thanked Fr John Kenny for celebrating a memorial Mass at the Oratory on Croagh Patrick and a large crowd attended, despite the cold temperatures at the top. He said he knew a lot of people locally were not able to make the funeral in Wicklow, where Ian lived, and felt the climb of Croagh Patrick was a fitting way to say farewell.
Refreshments after the climb were served in the Murrisk Community Centre, and Matt thanked all the people who provided food and sandwiches and made the event a very special occasion.