Climber ‘lives it up’ in national altitude centre while training for seven summits

Liam’s Lodge project to benefit from last two expeditions

When aeronautical engineer Paul Devaney closes the door of his "digs" in the University of Limerick (UL) each evening, he sleeps in a room over three times the height of Kerry's Carrauntoohil.

Devaney (36), an aeronautical engineer from Longford, has been doing so for the past six months as the longest living resident in UL’s national altitude training centre.

“It is a bit anti-social, spending 16 hours a day here in a room set at 3,600m [12,000 ft],” he laughs.

Devaney is training to complete a challenge he set himself after a visit to Everest base camp in Nepal in 2005, when he resolved to attempt the world’s seven highest summits while raising money for charity.


To date he has climbed five of the seven, starting with Kilimanjaro (5,895m) in 2007, and he aims to complete the last two, Antarctica’s Vinson Massif (4,897m) and Everest (8,848m) this Christmas/New Year and next April respectively.

All his trips have been self-funded, while raising €26,000 to date for various organisations.

Liam’s Lodge (, a respite centre for children with rare genetic diseases, is his charity for the last two peaks.

The Liam's Lodge project was initiated by Tony and Mary Heffernan whose two children, Saoirse and Liam, were born with Battens disease, a rare fatal neurological condition. Saoirse passed away in 2011.

Devaney has taken leave of absence from his job with Rolls Royce for 18 months, and moved into the UL altitude centre in July, where a laboratory control unit initially set his room at 1,600m.

The centre, which is the first of its kind in either Ireland or Britain, was opened before the 2012 Olympic Games to help elite athletes prepare for competition abroad by living in simulated altitude conditions.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

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