Tragic climber killed in 20-metre mountain fall

Fran McKeon

By Caroline Crawford

A DUBLIN grandad died in a tragic accident after plunging 20 metres in a mountain fall.

Fran McKeon (56), who was originally from Tallaght in Dublin, was a married father of three.

He was a keen mountaineer and had been living in Glenlara in Co Cavan for more than 20 years.

Mr McKeon had been climbing the Twelve Bens mountain range in Muckanagh, Co Galway, on Saturday afternoon when the accident occurred.

His wife Catherine, daughters Aisling and Shona and son Fiachra and grandchildren were being comforted by their family and friends at their Cavan home yesterday.

"He was a lovely man, a very nice guy, very quiet and reserved," said one friend.

Mr McKeon, who had worked with the Department of Agriculture, was with a group of climbers when he fell at around 4.30pm.

It is understood that he had moved slightly ahead of the group when the tragedy occurred. He suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

His companions alerted the emergency services and gardai along with Galway Mountain Rescue and the Malin Head Coast Guard co-ordinated a rescue operation. Two army personnel who were climbing nearby also came to help.

Malin Head Coast Guard was tasked with retrieving the remains. The Rescue 118 helicopter was dispatched from Sligo and at 6pm the climber was airlifted to Galway University Hospital. A post mortem will be carried out there today.

Meanwhile, Mayo Mountain Rescue and the Order of Malta dealt with 17 casualties throughout yesterday's Reek climb of Croagh Patrick.

Two people had to be airlifted from the mountain. A man in his 60s was brought to the Galway Cardiac Unit after suffering a cardiac episode on the mountain while a 22-year-old woman was airlifted to Mayo General Hospital after suffering a severe ankle injury.

Four other pilgrims were stretchered off the mountain and hospitalised for a range of issues from broken limbs to head injuries.