Devasted Wicklow students pay tribute to a close friend
STAFF and pupils at Coláiste Bhríde Carnew have paid tribute to mountain climber Ian McKeever who lost his life on Kilimanjaro last week, after he was struck by lightning.
Mr. McKeever accompanied a team of fourteen from the Carnew school up Kilimanjaro in July 2011, and a spokesperson for the school said this week they were devastated to learn of his tragic passing on the mountain he loved so well.
Seven students, two teachers, three parents and two doctors undertook the climb as part of the Carnew school’s group in July 2011. ‘Ian was such a safety conscious guy,’ said teacher Monica McGettrick who went on the trip. ‘He did everything from a safety point of view. His preparation for the trip was really thorough.’
They spent eight months preparing to go on the trip. The Carnew group were one of the first school groups to travel to Tanzania with Ian McKeever. ‘His aim with schools was to present a big challenge and a personal challenge for people,’ she said. ‘He had achieved so much himself, and he pushed boundaries for himself, and he wanted to give others that chance. He connected well with others, particularly teenagers.’
‘It was an incredible journey,’ she added. ‘ We were camping in fairly cool conditions and there was altitude sickness to be taken into consideration. He was with us on the whole walk, and he empowered people to believe in themselves. He was a fantastic communicator.’
‘People are still in shock and very upset,’ she continued. ‘It’s hard to believe really. He has been taken in his favourite part of the world. He was at his happiest there. He loved Kilimanjaro and Tanzania and spent a lot of the past year and a half going over and back there.’
She recalled on the day that they reached the summit, it was a spectacular morning. ‘We watched the sunrise come up over the clouds. It was magical, and very emotional,’ she said. ‘It was a highlight in our own personal lives. We were so privileged to even have had time with Ian and we’ll always remember him.’
Carnew students with Ian McKeever at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.