THE memory of Ger McDonnell, the intrepid mountaineer from Kilcornan and one of Ireland’s sporting heroes, will come dazzlingly alive again this Friday when his family, friends and neighbours gather for the launch of a new book about his life.
The book, The Time Has Come: Ger McDonnell- His Life and His Death on K2, has been written by Ger’s brother-in-law, Damien O’Brien and will be launched in Kilcornan Community Centre, the same venue which hailed Ger on his triumphant return home after scaling Mt Everest in 2003. Sadly, it was in the same place that family, friends and neighbours met to mourn Ger after the disaster on K2 which claimed his life in August 2008.
But, first-time author Damien O’Brien told the Limerick Leader some weeks ago, the book is not intended to deal only with Ger’s death and the events on the world’s second highest mountain which culminated in the death of eleven people. It will also tell the story of Ger’s life – a rich, eventful life in which he was recognised as a warm, big-hearted and generous human being, which saw him decorated for his integrity as a mountaineer, and which saw him win friends from around the globe.
Ger’s mountaineering career also brought him singular achievements. He was one of only a handful of Irish people to reach the summit of Mt Evevest – and the first Limerick man. And he remains the only Irish man to have scaled K2.
The initial impulse for the book was to gather together the very many stories Ger’s friends had to tell about him. It was, Damien explained, intended simply as a keepsake for the family but as more stories flowed in, one thing led to another and a different kind of book emerged.
“I was amazed by the response and support from people from all over the world, sharing their stories of Ger, sending on video clips and pictures,” Damien told the Limerick Leader. The book takes its title from the last message Ger left before the final push for the top.
Irish trad band with a difference, Kila, will perform at the launch which kicks off at 7.30pm.
The time has come: Ger McDonnell- His Life and His Death on K2 is published by Collins Press and costs €17.99.