Loughrey makes 300th climb ‘personal’
Trevor Quinn spoke to Matt Loughrey of Croagh Patrick 365 fame after he carried his children’s combined bodyweight up the reek last Thursday.
MATT Loughrey is a man on a misson. The Irish economic crisis and the hardship being experienced by families all over the country was the spark which set the Croagh Patrick 365 idea in motion, after a few pints late one night at Campbell’s Bar at the foot of the Holy Mountain.
Now, 10 months on he has made the ascent and descent over 300 times and is on the home stretch in terms of completing his momentous challenge.
To mark the occasion of this 300th climb last Thursday, Loughrey decided to do something symbolic.
“My two sons are too young to climb, so I committed to carrying their equivalent weight. This event is aimed at family so I felt it was a good way to celebrate the 300th climb, keeping the overall cause to the forefront,” he told The Mayo News last week.
Loughrey decided to give all proceeds raised to St Vincent de Paul because they offered the lowest administrative cost of all the charities considered, as well as allowing him to direct the money raised to the west of Ireland based links of the organisation.
Wearing a training vest packed with various heavy items he set off at 10am on Thursday flanked by close comrades and regular climbing colleagues, Dermot Henry and Greg Barry.
Loughrey admits that he was saturated in sweat by the time he reached the summit but he had no regrets about highlighting the impact of the economic collapse on hard-pressed families. “Primarily I am a father and I’m very proud that this whole event is aimed at families,” he said. “This event is real. To carry their weight up was personal to me.”
The former Croagh Patrick tour guide credits the wonderful camaraderie from well-wishers, family and friends as his driving force as he closes in on the penultimate stage of the Croagh Patrick 365 challenge in aid of St Vincent de Paul. He has watched in delight as the event has grown gradually and the awareness has steadily increased.
Loughrey said that internet giants Google in California came across his innovative fundraising idea in recent months, and they have now selected the Croagh Patrick 365 challenge as one of the few fundraising events which they are now promoting free of charge online across the world. This has significantly increased the visitor numbers to the site and increased awareness of the event on a global scale.
As always, passing American, Canadian and European backpackers were amongst the most frequent allies on the daily pilgrimage. Loughrey maintained he always knew Westport was a bedrock of nationalities during the summer months, but he has been taken aback by the amount of different countrymen and women who have heard about the challenge and taken a personal interest. “I’ve made connections and friends with people from all over the planet,” he said.
However, there have been few downsides to the challenge. Just a few weeks ago vandals ransacked Loughrey’s car in the car park stealing a laptop, a professional camera and even taking child seats.
“I wasn’t angry just disappointed really. There have been a few break-ins in recent months so I think CCTV or signs indicating that surveillance is in operation would help.
“Every day is a challenge,“ Loughrea said as he reflected on the first 300 days. “It’s got to a point where I’m genuinely tired, physically tired and mentally tired but the people around me recharge me very quickly.”
Following the success of the fundraising campaign which has accumulated more than €27,000 to date, Loughrey has now announced that he plans to continue the 365 challenge for a further two years. He will partake in a different type of challenge however, and the details of this new daily adventure will be revealed on the penultimate day of the Croagh Patrick 365 on June 3 next.
“I will take two months off when it finishes on June 4. I was thinking what am I going to do when this is all over, and so much good work has been done. I want to continue it for another two years. It seems a waste to let it go. It won’t be the mountain but it will be every bit as physically challenging”.
Speaking about his early ambitions to break the €100,000 barrier, Loughrey said, “I’d love to think we’ll get to €100,000 but maybe if we stick with it over three years we’ll get there. Energy is free and I feel like I’ve got a bit of energy left in me yet.”
For more information on the challenge or to donate, visit www.croaghpatrick365.com.