Irishman who died on Everest sent text from mountain saying he was coming home
Shay Lawless’s wife Pamela and daughter Emma blew out candle during ceremony
Friends and family of Shay Lawless came together for a memorial service to celebrate his life at the Holy Redeemer Church in Bray Co. Wicklow. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill.
Climbing Mount Everest was Trinity College lecturer Shay Lawless’ “biggest ambition”, the congregation at the Holy Redeemer Church in Bray, Co Wicklow heard at his memorial mass on Monday.
Hundreds of mourners paid their respects to Mr Lawless, who died just hours after reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain on May 16th.
Members of Barretstown Children’s Charity, the organisation that will receive any donations made in memory of Mr Lawless, formed a guard of honour outside the church.
Not long before he went missing, the father of one sent a text to his wife Pamela from the mountain saying he had “done it” and was coming home. Little did he know that “home had taken on a new meaning,” Fr Michael O’Kelly said.
The Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Statistics was curious, intelligent and full of “life, love and laughter”, Fr O’Kelly said , adding: “He wanted to live life to the full.”
With the church packed to capacity, Fr O’Kelly said it was clear the 39-year-old carved out “lasting friendships” and was interested in everyone he met.
Fr O’Kelly spoke about the academic’s long-standing love of mountaineering, which began when he was in secondary school. He ascended Denali in Alaska, and many of the Great Himalayan Peaks, but he always had his sights on scaling the world’s highest mountain, which was his “biggest ambition”.
Without a body to bury, Mr Lawless’s life was represented by a candle, which his pregnant wife Pamela and daughter Emma blew out during the ceremony.
“Although the light for him has gone out so unexpectedly, he lived his life to the full,” said Fr O’Kelly, adding he expects Mr Lawless’s daughter Emma and his unborn child “will take pride in the achievements of a wonderful father”.
A childhood friend of Mr Lawless, Rob Waters, said it was “lovely to see such a big turnout for Shay.” Mr Waters joked that his friend would be “no doubt up there laughing his head off” as he attempted his speech. “He always had the last laugh,” Mr Waters said. “Shay being Shay even found the time to text me from Everest to let me know that Everton beat United.”
While climbing was a huge passion, Mr Lawless’s “greatest achievement” was his family, Mr Waters said. “Shay loved Pam very much,” he said. “There were so many precious moments between Shay and and his daughter Emma. He read to her, brought her climbing and even made her into and Everton fan.”
He said: “It is fitting that your final resting place is up on top of the world because that is where you deserve to be. Rest in peace, Shay.”