Sunday 23 July 2017

Sad end to a road less travelled


ADVENTURER Ian McKeever took 'the road less travelled' mourners at the Requiem Mass were told on Saturday in the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole, Roundwood.

The 42-year-old adventurer died on Africa's highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro, on January 2 after being struck by lightning.

Hundreds of mourners from sporting, charity and media circles packed into the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole in Roundwood on Saturday to celebrate the life of the adventurer.

His fiancee Anna O'Loughlin who was among the group of around 20 people who were with Ian on Mount Kilimanjaro when the freak accident occurred remains on crutches and had to be helped in and out of the church.

A smiling photo of Ian sat on his coffin throughout the service which was attended by people from all walks of life. Chief celebrant Fr. Liam Belton also welcomed Rob Frank from Tanzania whom, he said, climbed with Ian.

Perhaps best known for scaling some of the world's highest peaks Ian from Lough Dan, Roundwood, regularly mentored hikers including secondary school students through his Kilimanjaro Achievers organisation. Many of them attended his funeral.

Fr. Belton said Ian was a 'very charismatic person, a person who showed great enthusiasm for everything he approached.

'There are many people here who know what the word challenge means because of Ian, taking up a challenge was second nature to him.'

He said death had come to Ian 'like a thief in the night, suddenly and without warning'.

In a moving eulogy his life long friend David Burke said Ian was a 'diverse person'.

'Having a friend like Ian was never conventional', he said adding that although friends might not see the adventurer for periods of time 'he was never far from our hearts'.

He recalled how Ian, or McKeever as he was more affectionately known, had a deep love of Fleetwood Mac and Elton John and indeed Elton John's 'Your Song' and Burt Bacharach's This Guy's in Love With You, Ian's favourite song, were both sung during his funeral Mass.

Mr. Burke's tales of how Ian had cycled to school in the coldest of weather with a 'thin grey shirt, no jumper and a big hairy chest and remember he was just 14 or 15 at the time!'

He said Ian was the first in the class to start shaving, the first boy whose voice broke and ' less coolly the first to get spots'. 'Ian never needed to be in a gang or a clique', he said. 'He just got on with everyone.'

He said Ian had been a great all rounder in school. 'You'd think we would have hated him but Ian had humility. There wasn't an aggressive bone in his body.

'His level of empathy was truly astonishing. He got so excited when his input was appreciated.'

Mr. Burke said Ian 'took the road less travelled' saying 'it is extremely comforting to me that he had found his purpose in life. He was content doing what he was born to do, inspiring others to do what they thought impossible.'

Close friend Gordon Mac An Bhaird said Ian's health and safety record was impeccable. 'Ian's death is the first and only serious incident' on Kilimanjaro during Ian's 35 treks up the mountain adding that 'Ian's life certainly made for good viewing'.

Speaking on behalf of her parents, Neil and Aedeen, Ian's sister Denise said they 'can't imagine life without him' adding he was 'never more than a phone call away despite his crazy schedule.

'He will be sadly missed by my mother and father who were so proud of his achievements. I'm proud to call him my big brother.'

Wicklow singer Luan Parle also sang In the Arms of an Angel.

A guard of honour was formed by players from St Peregrines Gaelic Athletic Club in Dublin. One young sportsman put the club scarf on top of the coffin.

Ian's remains were cremated immediately after his funeral mass at a private ceremony.

Those in attendance at the funeral service in Roundwood also inlcuded Kathryn Thomas, Lorraine Keane, Conor Faughnan and Nuala Carey. The Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his Aide de Camp, Commandant Michael Treacy.

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