SAD END TO A ROAD LESS TRAV­ELLED

TEARS FLOW AS IAN’S LIFE RE­CALLED IN ROUND­WOOD

Bray People - - NEWS -

AD­VEN­TURER Ian McKeever took ‘the road less trav­elled’ mourn­ers at the Re­quiem Mass were told on Satur­day in the Church of St. Lau­rence O’Toole, Round­wood.

The 42-year-old ad­ven­turer died on Africa's high­est moun­tain, Mt Kil­i­man­jaro, on Jan­uary 2 af­ter be­ing struck by light­ning.

Hun­dreds of mourn­ers from sport­ing, char­ity and me­dia cir­cles packed into the Church of St. Lau­rence O’Toole in Round­wood on Satur­day to cel­e­brate the life of the ad­ven­turer.

His fi­ancee Anna O’Lough­lin who was among the group of around 20 peo­ple who were with Ian on Mount Kil­i­man­jaro when the freak ac­ci­dent oc­curred re­mains on crutches and had to be helped in and out of the church.

A smil­ing photo of Ian sat on his cof­fin through­out the ser­vice which was at­tended by peo­ple from all walks of life. Chief cel­e­brant Fr. Liam Bel­ton also wel­comed Rob Frank from Tan­za­nia whom, he said, climbed with Ian.

Per­haps best known for scal­ing some of the world’s high­est peaks Ian from Lough Dan, Round­wood, reg­u­larly men­tored hik­ers in­clud­ing sec­ondary school stu­dents through his Kil­i­man­jaro Achiev­ers or­gan­i­sa­tion. Many of them at­tended his funeral.

Fr. Bel­ton said Ian was a ‘very charis­matic per­son, a per­son who showed great en­thu­si­asm for ev­ery­thing he ap­proached.

‘There are many peo­ple here who know what the word chal­lenge means be­cause of Ian, tak­ing up a chal­lenge was sec­ond na­ture to him.’

He said death had come to Ian ‘like a thief in the night, sud­denly and with­out warn­ing’.

In a mov­ing eu­logy his life long friend David Burke said Ian was a ‘di­verse per­son’.

‘Hav­ing a friend like Ian was never con­ven­tional’, he said adding that although friends might not see the ad­ven­turer for pe­ri­ods of time ‘he was never far from our hearts’.

He re­called how Ian, or McKeever as he was more af­fec­tion­ately known, had a deep love of Fleet­wood Mac and El­ton John and in­deed El­ton John’s ‘Your Song’ and Burt Bacharach’s This Guy’s in Love With You, Ian’s favourite song, were both sung dur­ing his funeral Mass.

Mr. Burke’s tales of how Ian had cy­cled to school in the cold­est of weather with a ‘thin grey shirt, no jumper and a big hairy chest and re­mem­ber he was just 14 or 15 at the time!’

He said Ian was the first in the class to start shav­ing, the first boy whose voice broke and ‘ less coolly the first to get spots’. ‘Ian never needed to be in a gang or a clique’, he said. ‘He just got on with ev­ery­one.’

He said Ian had been a great all rounder in school. ‘You’d think we would have hated him but Ian had hu­mil­ity. There wasn’t an ag­gres­sive bone in his body.

‘His level of em­pa­thy was truly as­ton­ish­ing. He got so ex­cited when his in­put was ap­pre­ci­ated.’

Mr. Burke said Ian ‘took the road less trav­elled’ say­ing ‘it is ex­tremely com­fort­ing to me that he had found his pur­pose in life. He was con­tent do­ing what he was born to do, in­spir­ing oth­ers to do what they thought im­pos­si­ble.’

Close friend Gor­don Mac An Bhaird said Ian’s health and safety record was im­pec­ca­ble. ‘Ian’s death is the first and only se­ri­ous in­ci­dent’ on Kil­i­man­jaro dur­ing Ian’s 35 treks up the moun­tain adding that ‘Ian’s life cer­tainly made for good view­ing’.

Speak­ing on be­half of her par­ents, Neil and Aedeen, Ian’s sis­ter Denise said they ‘can’t imag­ine life with­out him’ adding he was ‘never more than a phone call away de­spite his crazy sched­ule.

‘He will be sadly missed by my mother and fa­ther who were so proud of his achieve­ments. I’m proud to call him my big brother.’

Wicklow singer Luan Parle also sang In the Arms of an An­gel.

A guard of hon­our was formed by play­ers from St Pere­grines Gaelic Ath­letic Club in Dublin. One young sports­man put the club scarf on top of the cof­fin.

Ian’s re­mains were cre­mated im­me­di­ately af­ter his funeral mass at a pri­vate cer­e­mony.

Those in at­ten­dance at the funeral ser­vice in Round­wood also inl­cuded Kathryn Thomas, Lor­raine Keane, Conor Faugh­nan and Nuala Carey. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny was rep­re­sented by his Aide de Camp, Com­man­dant Michael Treacy.

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: A mem­ber of St. Pere­grine’s Gaelic Foot­ball Club places a scarf on the cof­fin of Ian McKeever af­ter the funeral Mass at The Church of St. Lau­rence O’Toole, Round­wood; Stu­dents from Cre­sent Col­lege, Lim­er­ick who climbed Kil­a­man­jaro with Ian; Luan Parle who sang at the funeral ser­vice; Kathryn Thomas; Mourn­ers at the chuch in Round­wood; Ian’s fi­ancee Anna O’Lough­lin.

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