TRAGEDY Kieran Halliwell died after falling while trekking on Mweelrea alone last August.
Coroner warns hikers to not climb alone
A Manchester native who died on his descent from Connacht’s highest mountain sent a WhatsApp image to his family of him on the summit shortly before his death.
Kieran Halliwell (35) of 33 Lime Avenue, Urmston, Manchester, died on Mweelrea mountain on August 16, 2021, following a fall.
His inquest, which took place in Swinford courthouse yesterday (Monday), heard that he died instantly due to a traumatic chest injury sustained during the fall.
Mr Halliwell had been on holiday with family in Renvyle when he decided to climb Mweelrea. His father, Robert Halliwell, told the inquest that he was unable to get someone to join him but went ahead despite local advice not to climb.
Mr Halliwell’s What’s App image to family members, saying he had reached the top, was sent at 3.20pm.
When he failed to return later that evening the alarm was raised, and members of the Mayo Mountain Rescue were tasked to take part in the search.
The search continued for two days and involved members of both the Mayo and Galway Mountain Rescue teams, as well as volunteers from all over Ireland and the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI.
Mary Walsh of the Mayo Mountain Rescue explained that at 12.14pm on August 18, the remains of a male were found on a steep section of the mountain. Robert Halliwell explained that the previous year his son had climbed Carrauntoohil in Co Kerry and the conditions at the top had been similar, with mist.
He said Kieran was a teacher and very sporty and that he had hoped to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland later in the year.
The day before the climb, Kieran Halliwell was in the Anglers’ Rest pub in Tullycross with his father and a local man called Daniel Sammon.
Mr Sammon said that when the deceased mentioned he was going to climb the mountain he advised him against doing so, as it was dangerous, and he told not him not to do it on his own.
He remarked that the following morning a heavy cloud hung cover the mountain. He wished Mr Halliwell luck but warned him be careful of the dangers the weather posed.
Mary Walsh said that while Mweelrea is on the bucket list of many climbers, there are no markers or trails to follow.
Dr Tomas Nemeth, a consultant pathologist, said the postmortem showed Mr Halliwell did not suffer any head injuries but had multiple rib fractures and suffered heavy haemorrhaging in the lungs.
He said the cause of death was due to lung haemorrhage due to lung contusion, puncture and traumatic chest injury. He said the injuries were extensive and that death would have been instant.
Mr Patrick O’Connor, coroner for the district of Mayo, recorded a verdict of accidental death. He added that if any lessons are to be learned they are that people should not climb mountains alone, and that they should have the right clothing.
He commended the volunteers who took part in the rescue, a sentiment that was echoed by Mr Halliwell, who thanked all the people who travelled and helped find their son.
Mr O’Connor also expressed sympathy to Mr Halliwell, his wife, Mary, and their family on their sad loss.