Every parent’s nightmare became reality for Hugh and Ena Kennedy of Rockfield, Athenry on the night of August 30 when a knock on the door heralded the terrible news that their only son, John, had died tragically while climbing one of Scotland’s highest mountains, the 3,090 feet (945 metres) Am Bodach.
The 25 year old brother of Róisin had gone on a climb with three friends on August 29. Am Bodach is a sharp peak formed by three steep and rocky faces in Glen Nevis, just south of Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. The eastern face holds patches of snow well into summer.
Conditions were not good and with darkness closing in early because of a thick mist, the climbers became separated. Having decided to start his descent, John slipped and fell into a ravine.
After his friends had reported him missing, members of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team searched for four hours in darkness until 3.30am on Thursday before seven members resumed the hunt at 8am.
In a momentous recovery operation, his body was found at 11am; the rescuers having abseiled several times to locate, and then get John’s body off the mountain.
The Inverness-based Coastguard S&R helicopter also joined the hunt in the early hours with the Prestwick-based crew continuing in the morning.
Glencoe Mountain Rescue team-leader Brian Bathurst said it appeared the hiker had been unlucky after making the decision to turn back because he felt he could not go on.
“He was with three companions and nearing the summit when he decided to turn back because he was feeling tired,” he said.
“The visibility was coming and going and he may have lost his way. The ground was also exceptionally slippery. We located him at the bed of a steep gully. He had fallen about 100 metres (328 ft).
“To recover him required a huge physical effort and was a technical exercise with multiple abseils. It was a huge effort from the guys. It was quite difficult terrain too,” Mr Bathurst added.
John was born in Perth, Australia where his parents were working.
But when he was seven years of age, the family came back to Rockfield, his father’s birthplace and settled there. John went to Coldwood National School and later to Athenry’s Presentation School.
His great love was football, but especially soccer and his beloved Liverpool F.C. He played Australian Rules as a child and soccer and Gaelic football when his family settled in Ireland.
He was a free spirit and in his travels he had worked Italy, Spain, England and Scotland and had intended spending some time in Germany when the accident occurred. He had booked his ticket to fly there on the day after he died.
John was buried in Willmount Cemetery, only a short walk from his home.
Canon Brendan Kilcoyne, P.P. who celebrated the funeral mass in Athenry church spoke eloquently about John’s short life and encouraged his family and friends not to despair but to have hope for the future.
His Italian girlfriend Chiara and the Castelli family travelled from Milan to say their goodbyes.
There was a poignant moment as the coffin was carried from the church when the choir and congregation joined in the Liverpool FC anthem, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
Exploring the merits of moving into the west
Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.
“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.
These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.
But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.
Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.
One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.
The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing
A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.
They lifted and footed his turf.
John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.
He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.
“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.
Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!
“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.
Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.
They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.
Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat
It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.
After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.
“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”
But it could have all been so different.
Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.
She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.
Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.
Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.
Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.