Mountaineer's body brought back home for final farewell
THE body of mountaineer and adventurer Ian McKeever was due to arrive back in Ireland this morning, ahead of his funeral tomorrow.
The 42-year-old record-holding climber died after he was struck by lightning as he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on Wednesday last week.
Ian's fiancee, Anna, was with him during the ill-fated climb and had to be helped down the mountain by rescue teams before being transported to a local hospital in Moshi for treatment.
Ian's removal will take place at the Church of St Laurence O'Toole at 7pm this evening in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, before his funeral Mass tomorrow at 11.30am, followed by a private cremation service.
Mr McKeever regularly mentored hikers, including many Irish schoolchildren, through his Kilimanjaro Achievers organisation.
The McKeever family has said it would like to express its sincere gratitude for all the kindness and magnitude of coverage regarding Ian's untimely death.
It said the coverage would ensure that his eternal memory will remain in the hearts of those whom he touched.
One of Ian's friends, Eugene Grey, said the reality of his friend's death was only hitting home now.
"It's been a very long, difficult week, in particular for the family," he said.
"It's probably in the past 48 hours that the reality of the tragedy has set in, with the final funeral arrangements and with the family travelling to Zurich to meet his body for Ian's final journey back to Ireland, back to his home and back to themselves."
Tributes continue to be paid to the record-breaking mountaineer on his company's Facebook page.
More than 800 people expressed their condolences to the founder of Kilimanjaro Achievers, describing him as an inspirational character.
One said he had lived a "worthwhile, fulfilling, generous and incredible" life.