THE friends and family members of the late Shane Fitzgerald from Glin are in training for what is likely to be the biggest physical challenge of their lives to date: climbing Ireland’s Three Peaks within a 24-hour period.
The 60 or so novice climbers all have one aim in mind in responding positively to this challenge: to remember and honour their well-loved Shane and to do right by an organisation which Shane admired and respected, Pieta House.
Shane, his sister Aoife explained this week, died in a drowning accident in Limerick last October.
A student at UL, he was on his way home from meeting friends when he slipped and fell into the Shannon at Hogan’s Pier.
“It was a very tragic accident,” Aoife said softly.
At the time, Shane was actively involved in planning the Three Peak Challenge to raise funds for Pieta House.
He had, Aoife explained, been deeply touched by the death, by suicide, of one of his friends and wanted to do something for the organisation which is dedicated to preventing suicide and self-harm.
Already, in the early part of 2013, Shane had proved his own commitment to the charity by kayaking his way down the Shannon from Limerick to Glin.
In the process, he had raised some €1600 for Pieta House and had then been inspired to organise the Three Peak Challenge. Sadly, his family and friends will now be climbing the mountains without him. But he will, no doubt, be with them in spirit.
The long journey starts about 2pm on Saturday, April 26 when the buses leave Glin for Co Mayo.
The 24-hour challenge proper is set to begin at 8pm sharp with the climbing of Croagh Patrick. The climbers will then head for Co Wicklow for a dawn climb of Lugnaquilla before heading to Kerry for the last and highest climb of all, Carrantohill.
“We aim to be finished and having a celebratory drink at Kate Kearney’s cottage by 8pm on Sunday,” Aoife Fitzgerald explained.
Over the Easter weekend, the climbers are planning to hike Carrantohill to get climbing fit, she added.
Meanwhile, the push is on to raise as much money as possible. Up to 100 sponsorship cards have been distributed and sponsors are also making online pledges.
To pledge money go to www.mycharity.ie/events/shanes3peakchallenge or https://sites.google.com/site/shanes3peakchallenge/home