Limerick’s everyday heroes to climb Mount Everest for Autism Ireland

Donal O'Regan

Reporter:

Donal O'Regan

Rescues inspired John Mulready’s love of mountain climbing

Rescues inspired John Mulready’s love of mountain climbing

TWO LIMERICK firemen and two HSE staff face extreme challenges every day but this week they are ready to take on the biggest undertaking of their lives.

John Mulready, Scott Keenan, Niamh O’Leary and Aine Fleming flew out to Nepal to climb Mount Everest this Wednesday. 

John is the fire station officer in Cappamore while Scott is senior assistant chief fire officer in Limerick city. Niamh works in UHL and Aine is a paramedic. Their public service continues as they are raising money for Autism Ireland.

The four, who paid for their own trips in full, got a rousing send off in Cappamore fire station on Tuesday evening. 

“What really gave me the bug for climbing was actually being in the fire service and being involved in rope rescues and line rescues. I haven’t played sport in years so this is my outlet – I go mountain climbing and trekking,” said John, who is 57.

When he isn’t on call you can find him in the Galtees or MacGillycuddy Reeks. Three years ago John decided he was going to go to Everest and a few friends decided to go with him. With the help of organisers, Earth Edge, John, Scott, Niamh, Aine and 12 more flew to Kathmandu. From there they fly to Lukla - the world’s most dangerous airport.

“We meet the team of sherpas and team travelling with us. The plan is to reach Everest base camp on October 20 , stay overnight and go up Kala Patthar, reaching 5,645 metres,” said John.

Due to all their training he said fitness won’t be a problem.

 “It is just whether we can overcome the altitude sickness – it affects people in terrible ways. We plan to get to the top, hold up the flag of Limerick Fire Service and wear our Autism Ireland T-Shirts,” said John, who heard a rumour that a Tipperary GAA flag is going to be smuggled up so he is planning to bring a Limerick one.

“We will have to outdo them by having the Limerick one higher!” smiled John.

The four want to raise money and awareness of autism.

“My granddaughter was tested for autism in the last two weeks. It kind of shocked me then when I started talking to people the amount of people I knew that are affected by autism. 

“We want to raise awareness as well. The fire service really has no training in dealing with autistic people if we interact with them at a road accident or a fire. A person from Autism Ireland came down to me in the station.

“She is going to deliver a presentation to Limerick Fire Service with the hope that we can do training at station level to the lads in how to connect and interact with people with autism. If that is the one thing that comes out of this then it is worthwhile,” said John. 

He says they have got a huge amount of support and messages from fellow fire officers, gardai and members of the public. 

To follow their progress and to donate log on to Climbing Mount Everest in aid of Autism Ireland Facebook page.