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One Of Ireland's Climbing Heros Remembered Forever..


Updated : Mar 26, 2009

Gerard McDonnell’s historic achievement was officially recognised by Limerick County Council at a ceremony attended by members of the late mountaineer’s family.

The native of Kilcornan, Co Limerick was entered into the history books when he reached the summit of the world’s second highest mountain in August 2008. He was tragically killed while descending the Himalayan peak just hours after achieving his lifetime ambition.

In one of his last website postings before tackling the final climb to the top of K2, Gerard wrote, “Let luck and good fortune prevail!!! Fingers crossed. Sin e anois a chairde, ta an t-am ag teacht.”

The 37-year-old was part of an expedition team comprising seven climbers from Ireland, Holland and Australia. Lying on the Pakistan-China border, K2 is regarded as one of the most all-round difficult mountains in the world with only around 189 climbers having reached the summit. 49 climbers have died on the mountain, 22 while descending it.

Speaking at a ceremony in Limerick County Hall on Tuesday, Cllr. John Gallahue, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council described Gerard McDonnell as a proud Limerick man who pushed the boundaries of human endurance to the limits.
He continued, “Gerard had confidence in his ability as a mountaineer but remained equally aware of the unpredictable and destructive capability of Mother Nature. Tragically, this courageous spirit was killed on his descent from the mountain, shortly after completing one of his finest achievements.”

“Gerard’s appetite for life was an inspiration to anyone who came into contact with him. In addition, his achievements, loyalty, good humour and humility were an enormous source of pride for his family, friends and those who shared his passion for mountaineering,” stated the Cathaoirleach.

He added, “There is no doubt that Gerard’s lifetime of achievements has cemented his place in Irish mountaineering history. More importantly, those who had the pleasure of meeting him will never forget his indelible personality. Since his death and for many years to come, the people of Kilcornan, County Limerick and Ireland will remember Gerard with great affection. Further afield, I am sure that the stories of his ambition and courage will continue to inspire others to follow their dreams, no matter how grand they may seem.”

Fellow mountaineer and adventurer/explorer Pat Falvey from County Kerry said that anyone who had the privilege to climb with Gerard would forever remember him as a loyal friend, great team player, brilliant climber and proud Irishman.
“Ger had a love and passion for adventure, wild places, people and mountains. He was not afraid to live life and went about achieving his dreams with vigour to make them a reality. I was fortunate to have had similar dreams to his and had the privilege to work with him to fulfil our mutual goals of climbing and adventuring in the highest, remote and most beautiful places on our planet,” explained Mr. Falvey.

He continued, “I will remember him as he was, his smiling face, the glint in his eyes, the story teller and joker, always ready to sing a song and a tune on the bodhrán, and on reaching summits clinching his fists and raising the tricolour high. Ger was never short of dreams, he was a proud Irish man with a love of all Irish, his roots, our culture and traditions and he kept them alive no matter where he went.”
“Ger was selfless and a great carer, on his final hours on K2 he gave of his time trying to rescue others only to lose his own life. That was the type of person he was, brave and courageous. Ger succeeded in a life ambition of climbing K2, and I know how proud he would have felt in his final hours. He will not be home as his resting place is on one of the most respected mountains on planet earth. Even now when I go on expedition I feel his presence. His memory lives on,” concluded Mr. Falvey.
In June 2003, Limerick County Council bestowed Civic Honours on Gerard in recognition of his extraordinary achievement in climbing and reaching the summit of Mount Everest. In 2005, he joined up with Pat Falvey – to become a team leader on Falvey’s Beyond Endurance expedition in Antarctica in honour of Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean. A decade before his K2 success, he had moved to where he hoped not only to work but also to develop his skills as a mountaineer.
A plaque honouring him now rests atop Ireland’s tallest peak, 3,406-foot Carrauntoohil in County Kerry.

Meanwhile, Gerard’s former electric engineering classmates at Dublin City University (DCU) have established a Living Trust in his memory and are seeking donations via the DCU Educational Trust.

VeryHappyPig says what a man.. A man that makes us all proud to be Irish..



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