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Westport man climbs Croagh Patrick every day of February

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BACK ON TOP Gavin Walmsley and Conor Cunniffe experienced some very wintry weather during their climbs of Croagh Patrick for the month of February.

Oisín McGovern

A WESTPORT man conquered Croagh Patrick 28 times in the month of February as part of a fundraising drive. Gavin Walmsley summited the holy mountain every day last month to raise over €5,000 for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta House.
The former Rice College student was accompanied on his journey by his friend Conor Cunniffe, who overcame injury to scale the mountain on 25 occasions.
Speaking to The Mayo News last week, Gavin said he was ‘delighted’ to be over the month-long slog, during which he overcame bumps, bruises and horrific winter weather.
“We got into the swing of it after a couple of days and it wasn’t too bad,” he said.
“Around Day 12, I guess the novelty wore off a little bit. We got a big boost between The Mayo News and Mid West Radio, and then the donations started flying in. That pushed me back up again, you can’t not go up when you see the donations coming in.”
Gavin was inspired to undertake the challenge by Charlie Bird, who has vowed to climb the Reek on April 2 in aid of the same charities for which Gavin fundraised.
The former RTÉ broadcaster was recently diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease and is currently losing his speech.

‘Climb with Charlie’
The ‘Climb With Charlie’ campaign has garnered nationwide support, with several similar events taking place across Mayo on the same day. Gavin describes Bird as ‘a big inspiration’ for undertaking the challenge.
“It’s sad to hear that he’s debilitating a bit, but hopefully he’ll be able to get [the challenge] done,” Gavin says. “But for him, I probably wouldn’t have done this.”
The University of Limerick graduate described the challenge as an ‘incredible experience’ and says he would love to climb the mountain more often in future.
He also says having the company of a friend helped him get through the 28 days of climbing.
“It made it a lot easier, we were chatting every day. It was like getting up for school every day, getting up early, going out into the mountain, bitching about our injuries between each other … it makes it ten times easier,” he added.
“The day we woke up after the finally climb, we said, geez, what do we do now? We didn’t really know what to do,” he adds.
“It was Groundhog Day there every day for a while, getting up and going up. I’m lucky that I started a new job this week, that will keep me busy.”
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You can still donate to the Gavin Walmsley’s 28 Day Croagh Patrick challenge in aid of Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta House at: https://www.idonate.ie/GavinWalmsley.