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Saturday 20 September 2014

Tributes to 'loving and devoted father' killed in Mont Blanc accident

Published 04/08/2014 | 18:33

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3/8/14
Family and friends carry the coffin of Peter Britton at Peter and Pauls church in Clonmel co. Tipperary.
Peter was killed in a climbing accident on Mont Blanc.
Picture Dylan Vaughan.
Family and friends carry the coffin of Peter Britton at Peter and Pauls church in Clonmel Photo: Dylan Vaughan.

A COUNCIL engineer killed in a mountaineering accident was hailed for saving countless lives thanks to his relentless commitment to road safety improvements.

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Peter Britton (55) was described as “a kind, loving, devoted father…he was our rock” by his son, Christopher.

The tributes came as hundreds gathered at Mr Britton’s Requiem Mass in the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

In an emotional tribute, Christopher said the family took some solace from the fact “he did not die on the mountain alone.”

Mr Britton died along with his good friend and climbing partner, Colm Ennis (37), when a rope failed and they plummeted 200m during their descent of Mont Blanc on the France-Italy border on July 27.

Both men were killed instantly in the fall which was witnessed by other climbers.

The duo, both active members of Rathgormack Climbing Club and experienced Alpine mountaineers, had climbed Europe’s highest mountain and were descending in an area known as Dent du Geant or the Giant’s Tooth when the tragedy occurred.

“We are absolutely devastated by what happened…dad was first and foremost a family man and he loved us, a fact he told us many times but we already knew,” Christopher told the packed church.

“He was our north, our south, our east and our west. But we won’t be stopping the clocks in the house because that is not what dad would have wanted,” he said.

Mr Britton, a University College Galway graduate, worked for Dublin City Council before transferring to South Tipperary Co Council in 2002.

Fr Brendan Crowley said Mr Britton had left a remarkable legacy as he helped transform Clonmel and, in particular, road safety throughout the area.

The improvements to roads, signage and safety measures had helped substantially reduced the number of road fatalities in south Tipperary – a fact Fr Crowley said had saved countless lives.

“I know Peter was held in very high esteem by all his colleagues. All of us would like to leave the world in better shape than when we found it,” Fr Crowley said.

“Peter certainly, as an engineer, left the world a better place. Clonmel should be very grateful to him too. He did an awful lot of work in Clonmel and south Tipperary.”

“For instance, road safety in south Tipperary was greatly improved because of the many improvements that Peter introduced and we should be grateful for that.”

The Offertory Gifts reflected Mr Britton’s passions and included family items, a mountain climbing shoe and his guitar.

The mourners were led by Mr Britton’s wife, Carol, and children, Christopher, Laura and Cormac.

South Tipperary Co Council was represented by its Chairman, Cllr Mike Fitzgerald while Rathgormack Climbing Club, whose training wall was built by Mr Britton, also led tributes.

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