Charlie Bird begins his training to take on Croagh Patrick climb

Peak practice: Charlie Bird prepares for his mountain challenge. Photo: Maxwells

Eoghan Moloney

Charlie Bird has begun training for his Croagh Patrick charity climb and took to the Wicklow Hills yesterday.

Mr Bird will attempt to summit Ireland’s most sacred mountain on April 2 to raise awareness and funds for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Foundation and Pieta House through his ‘Climb With Charlie’ event.

He will undertake the challenge despite recently being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease as he wants to raise awareness of people suffering terminal illnesses or those “going through a hard time”.

Recent interviews about his diagnosis and health Mr Bird gave on The Late Late Show struck a chord with the nation and many well-known people have given the event their backing.

Vicky Phelan, Daniel O’Donnell, Davy Fitzgerald, Mary McAleese, Donie O’Sullivan and many others have lent their support to the former RTÉ correspondent’s pledge to scale ‘The Reek’.

Ms Phelan has vowed to climb with Mr Bird, as long as her health permits.

Accompanied by his wife Claire and their dog Tiger, the former reporter hit the hills around Laragh and Glendalough at the weekend to begin his preparations.

While numbers on the mountain on April 2 will have to be limited, Mr Bird has encouraged anyone who wishes to become involved to scale a local mountain or hill on the day and donate whatever they can to the campaign.

Mr Bird candidly told Ryan Tubridy in a December interview that he was “crying every day” since his diagnosis.

However, in a second interview last Friday, in which he announced the climb, Mr Bird said the love and support he has received have “lifted my spirits”. He added that he no longer cries every day.

Among the letters of support he has received was a package containing 150 drawings of feet from pupils at Scoil Phádraig in Westport, Co Mayo.

They told him: “We will be walking with you in spirit every day.”

The pupils vowed that a different class will walk a mile each day until Mr Bird arrives in Co Mayo for his climb on April 2.

“Our school motto is ‘Ar Aghaidh Le Chéile’ – Going Forward Together, which we think is a very nice thought to share with you today,” the pupils’ letter said.