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Fiancee's farewell to tragic climber Ian

MOUNTAINEER Ian McKeever's devastated fiancee led mourners at his removal last night.

Hundreds turned out to show their respects to the charity worker who died after being struck by lightening on Kilimanjaro last week.

Anna O'Loughlin, who was due to marry the 42-year-old later this year, showed the strain of recent days as she arrived for the service at the Church of St Laurence O'Toole, Roundwood.

She was with the adventurer in Tanzania when the tragedy struck on Wednesday last week.

Before the service, his family issued a short statement in which they described Ian as a "loving and caring person". They said he "will be dearly missed both as a son and brother".

Ian is survived by his father Neil, mother Aedeen and sister Denise and her family who are "deeply shocked and saddened".

They said: "We are happy to have Ian finally at home in Ireland where he will be laid to rest."

A funeral service was taking place today, after which Ian's body will be cremated.

Meanwhile a group of secondary school students who climbed Kilimanjaro with Ian are planning a charity climb in his honour. All funds raised will go to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.

The students from Presentation College, Athenry, plan to climb the four Connemara Peaks on St Patrick's Day in Ian's memory.

Describing him as "a truly inspirational person", the students penned a touching tribute to the climber who helped them complete their Kilimanjaro challenge last August.

"Ian had great respect for us all and spoke to us as adults. He touched our lives and encouraged us to get off our butts. He taught us the importance of feeding our bodies with the right foods, the importance of training and that nothing is impossible.

"He also taught us about determination and team work as we trained and as we climbed Kilimanjaro as part of a team."