Charlie Bird, the retired RTÉ broadcaster who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease last year, reached the summit of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo on Saturday after raising more than €1.8 million for charity.
More than 10,000 people took part in more than 200 Climb with Charlie fundraisers across the country on Saturday to raise money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Pieta House suicide prevention charity.
The former RTÉ presenter was greeted with thunderous applause from all those who climbed Croagh Patrick when he reached the summit just after midday on Saturday.
— Fran McNulty (@franmcnulty) April 2, 2022
He also shared an emotional moment with singer Daniel O’Donnell and RTÉ Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy after he wrapped up Rising.
Charlie Bird with Daniel O’Donnell and Ryan Tubridy on Croagh Patrick today. For those of us who witnessed that moment, it seemed like the top of the world. This man’s bravery and courage inspired a nation and reminded us how great we can be💪👏 pic.twitter.com/rfHnyX2F6d
— Photographer Padraig O’Reilly (@padraig_reilly) April 2, 2022
Bird lit five candles at the Croagh Patrick summit, one for Covid-19 frontline workers, one for anyone with a terminal illness, one for people in Ukraine, one for people in a dark place, and one for CervicalCheck activist Vicky Phelan, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after an incorrect swab test result.
Phelan wanted to accompany Bird on Saturday but announced a few weeks ago that she was unable to attend due to health reasons. The Limerick woman was represented by 11 family members on Croagh Patrick on Saturday.
The ascent started at 9:30 am on Saturday from a parking lot at the foot of the mountain. Bird began his ascent an hour later after releasing a pigeon for the first time.
Bird has received hundreds of letters of support from people across Ireland and told RTÉ all of those people were on his thoughts on Saturday.
Irish President Michael D Higgins sent “all the best wishes and warmest support” ahead of Saturday morning’s climb.
“Charlie’s strength and dignity over the last few months has been a true source of inspiration to people across Ireland and beyond. I know the public will be with him every step of the way,” Higgins said on Twitter.
All best wishes and warmest support @charliebird49 on his ascent of Croagh Patrick today. Charlie’s strength and dignity over the last few months has been a true source of inspiration to people across Ireland and beyond. I know the public will be with him every step of the way.
— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) April 2, 2022
Click here to learn more or to donate to the Climb with Charlie campaign.