Coroner criticises insufficient funding for Mayo Mountain Rescue

Geoff Rowden (38) from Goatstown, Dublin, had injuries consistent with a fall

Mweelrea, Co Mayo. John O’Dwyer, coroner for south Mayo, made his comments at an inquest in Castlebar into the death on October 29th of Geoff Rowden (38) from Goatstown, Dublin, while hiking on Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht.

Mweelrea, Co Mayo. John O’Dwyer, coroner for south Mayo, made his comments at an inquest in Castlebar into the death on October 29th of Geoff Rowden (38) from Goatstown, Dublin, while hiking on Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 01:06


A coroner yesterday criticised the “paltry” €7,000 which the Government allocated for 2013 to Mayo Mountain Rescue saying the amount was “absolutely unbelievable” given the vital work carried out by the voluntary organisation.

John O’Dwyer, coroner for south Mayo, made his comments at an inquest in Castlebar into the death on October 29th of Geoff Rowden (38) from Goatstown, Dublin, while hiking on Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht.

Mr Rowden, an experienced hillwalker who was a member of the Irish Mountaineering Council, left his home in the early hours to drive to Mweelrea in southwest Mayo, where he intended to do a five-hour hike alone.

At about midday he phoned his wife Ann-Marie to tell her he was beginning his ascent but there was no contact afterwards. Ms Rowden, in a statement read to the inquest, explained she raised the alarm the following day and a full-scale search of the mountain was started.

On the following Saturday, December 2nd, the body of the missing man was found in an area of the mountain known as “the bowl”. He had severe head injuries.

Consultant pathologist Dr Malcolm Little, who carried out a postmortem on the father of one, said he had sustained multiple head and facial injuries consistent with a fall from a height.

Dr Little agreed with the coroner that death would have been instantaneous.

Extensive search
The hearing was told the search lasted several days and involved mountain rescue personnel and hillwalkers from all over Ireland, gardaí and civilians.

Recording an open verdict, Mr O’Dwyer commended Mayo Mountain Rescue on the “inordinate amount of work they do on a volunteer basis”.

That 150 volunteers were involved in the search for Mr Rowden on the day his body was found showed the “loyalty and commitment” the hillwalking fraternity had for each other.

Highlighting the fact that the mountain rescue team had no operational base, Mr O’Dwyer said he hoped that in 2014 it would get greater support so as to buy new equipment and invest in training and facilities.

The coroner also advised that mountain hikers wear high-visibility clothing.

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