Funeral told Lynam was 'voice of Irish mountaineering' on world stage

“THERE IS much comfort in high hills and a great easing of the heart...”

“THERE IS much comfort in high hills and a great easing of the heart . . .”

The words of Geoffrey Winthrop Young were recalled at the funeral of mountaineer Joss Lynam (86) in Dublin yesterday, where tributes were paid to his enthusiasm, his inspiration and his legacy to adventure sports.

“The voice of Irish mountaineering on the international stage,” was how Ireland’s first Everest summiteer Dawson Stelfox described him, recalling how he had inspired and encouraged younger climbers.

Mr Lynam had also played a key role in recognising the rights and involvement of the “host” countries of Pakistan, India and Nepal in mountaineering, Mr Stelfox said.


Through his chairmanship of the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA) expeditions commission, he had given these countries “space” after decades of being overlooked, he added.

Mr Lynam “hadn’t finished his life . . . but never would have”, his eldest daughter Ruth told the large gathering of family, friends and members of the adventure sport community at the Church of St Thérèse in Mount Merrion.

The London-born and Dublin-based civil engineer, who died last Sunday after a short illness, held a “great passion” for mountains which brought him to the Alps, Greenland and the Himalayas, the chief celebrant at the funeral Mass, Fr Andrew O’Sullivan, said.

He was a founder member of the Irish Mountaineering Club in 1948, he had met his wife Nora on a mountain, he said, and his legacy would last for generations to come.

He had also inspired others in demonstrating that one could "never be too old" for climbing or any other activity, Fr O'Sullivan said, referring to an article which Lynam had written for Irish Mountain Log.

He was editor of Irish Mountain Logfor 25 years and he published a number of guide books to hill-walking and climbing.

He also played a key voluntary role on State bodies and committees associated with outdoor education and access to the countryside.

Recalling his extensive interests, ranging from history and antiquities to cartography and archaeology, Ms Lynam said that the family had always hoped he would never cook at home – for his favourite recipe was “camp stew”, comprising fatty tinned beef and instant mash potato.

Mr Lynam’s leadership of the 1987 Irish mountaineering expedition to the Himalayan peak, Changtse, laid the foundation for the first and successful Irish attempt on Mount Everest in 1993.

That expedition's deputy leader Frank Nugent paid his own tribute, when he recited the lines of Geoffrey Winthrop Young's On High Hillsand he sang Ewan McColl's The Joy of Living.

Chief mourners were Mr Lynam’s wife Nora, his daughters Clodagh and Ruth, his grandchildren Christopher, Ruairí and Conor and his extended family.

Among those in attendance were former Mountaineering Council of Ireland chair Mike Keyes, Mountaineering Ireland president Alan Tees and its chief officer Karl Boyle, and Robert Pettigrew, representing the British Mountaineering Council, the Himalayan Club and the UIAA.

Also there were Sports Council chief executive John Treacy, economist Dr TK Whitaker, Ursula MacPherson, director of Gartan Outdoor Education Centre, and climber Paddy O’Leary, who was involved with Mr Lynam in the development of the Association for Adventure Sports and the National Adventure Centre at Tiglin, Co Wicklow.

Mr Lynam was cremated at Mount Jerome.

His ashes will be scattered from the summit of the first mountain he climbed as a young boy – Knocknacarea, Co Sligo – on February 12th.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times