Tributes paid to Irish climber who died on Mount Kilimanjaro
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has led tributes to 42-year-old Irishman Ian McKeever who has died on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Mr McKeever was well known for his charity work, adventuring and mountaineering.
“I had come to know him over recent years and I admired him not only for his own achievements and charity work but also for his work with young people in challenging them to achieve their full potential,” Mr Kenny said in a statement.
Mr McKeever had brought students from Castlebar to the summit of Kilimanjaro and had sent Mr Kenny text updates en-route on their progress.
“Ian said to me once that there was no place he would rather be than in the mountains,” Mr Kenny said.
“He was extremely passionate about what he did and driven in his belief that everybody can achieve their potential during their lifetime,” Mr Kenny said.
Mr McKeever was leading a group of about 20 climbers, most of whom were from Ireland, when it is believed they were struck by lightning earlier yesterday. Mr McKeever died in the incident. Several other climbers, including Mr McKeever's fiancé Anna, were injured during the incident. None of their injuries were serious or life-threatening, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said..
The latest expedition set off to Tanzania from Ireland on December 28th and began their ascent the day before New Year’s Eve.
In online Facebook updates, Mr McKeever wrote that there was torrential rain but spirits remained high among the hikers. In his final post he said: “We pray for dryer weather tomorrow — the big day. It’s the Lava Tower.” The Lava Tower is a landmark on the climb.
He was heavily involved with climbing specialists Kilimanjaro Achievers, and was a world record-breaking climber. He had climbed the peak more than 30 times.
Among his achievements were breaking the world record for climbing the highest summit on each of the seven continents in 2007 and in 2008 helping his then 10-year-old godson Sean McSharry become the youngest person in Europe to reach the top of Kilimanjaro .
In 2009, he was part of a team that attempted to row the South Atlantic Ocean in under 30 days, but the boat lost its rudder and they were forced to postpone the attempt.
He was the author of two books Give Me Shelter and Give Me Heroes and was working on a third book Give Me 28 Days.
Friend and fellow mountaineer Pat Falvey this morning described the death as a freak accident.
Mr Falvey told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland said it was hard to believe the death occurred where it did and that Mr McKeever died helping people to achieve their goals.
His friend Eugene Grey said that despite holding many world records, Mr McKeever was a “very humble guy” who “never boasted” and “always wanted to give back to society”.
“I always knew I was in the presence of a great man,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Mr McKeever “always had something planned” and had been working on becoming the first person over 40 to run the four minute mile, he said.
Breffny Morgan, who attempted to row across the Atlantic with Mr McKeever four years ago said it was “awful tragic news”. “He was a great man, always full of enthusiasm” Mr Morgan said recalling nights rowing when Mr McKeever would “always keep people going”.