TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has paid tribute to mountain climber and adventurer Ian McKeever who has died in a freak accident on Africa’s highest mountain.
`Mr McKeever was “extremely passionate” and had helped countless young people believe they could achieve their potential, Mr Kenny said.
"I was very saddened to hear of the death of renowned adventurer Ian McKeever,” he said. “I had come to know him over recent years and I admired him not only for his own achievements and charity work but also for his work with young people in challenging them to achieve their full potential.
“Ian said to me once that there was no place he would rather be than in the mountains. I would like to extend my sympathies to his fiancée Anna and his family, friends and fellow adventurers.”
The 42-year-old was struck by lightning a day after reports that bad weather was hampering the climb by a large group, including more than 20 from Ireland.
Among those who paid tribute today was his close friend Adi Roche who described him as a “visionary” who believed that individuals could “change the world”.
Mr McKeever was a “problem solver” who was “wise, energetic, a visionary and a tour de force”.
“I’ve known Ian for about 20 years, from when he arrived in my house asking to do a charity cycle for Crumlin Children’s Hospital,” she said.
“Ian was a minder of mine. I could go to him with my trials and tribulations, he was a problem solver and became one of my heroes. He was wise, energetic, a visionary and a tour de force. He believed we could change the world and in the power of one.
“He instilled so much hope and self-belief. He was a very profound kind of guy, in a very fun sort of way. He wanted to get across the social divides in schools and in society. He has touched the lives of countless people and he has left a legacy of the power of what is possible.
“He did so much work with young people, and would inspire and enthuse children to climb Kilimanjaro. He never saw the dark side to anything, he was a once-off model and I’m absolutely heartbroken.
A native of Roundwood, Co Wicklow, Mr McKeever was a highly experienced climber, having previously reached the top of Mount Everest.
A social sciences graduate from UCD, he previously worked as a radio presenter for AA Roadwatch and also worked in public relations and as a qualified life coach.
Since 2007 he had began a series of world record attempts which included his smashing of the Seven Summits Challenge, completing the climbs in 32 days less than the previous record.
Closer to home, he climbed Co Mayo's Croagh Patrick 35 times in 80 hours in 2008. The following year he was part of a crew attempting to be the first team to row the South Atlantic Ocean in less than 30 days. They were forced to abandon the attempt after the boat lost its rudder.
Most recently he led a group of 145 Irish teenagers, their teachers and fundraisers, to the summit of Kilimanjaro in August, raising more than €200,000 for Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, Chernobyl International and various charities.