Daniel O'Donnell to join Charlie Bird in Croagh Patrick charity climb

Daniel O'Donnell to join Charlie Bird in Croagh Patrick charity climb

Charlie Bird speaking to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show last month. Picture: Andres Poveda

It was a powerful and emotional evening on Friday’s Late Late Show, as broadcaster Charlie Bird launched the inaugural “Climb with Charlie” fundraiser in aid of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta, Ireland’s national suicide prevention charity.

Mr Bird launched the charity climb alongside cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan, who will both be climbing Croagh Patrick on 2 April to raise money for the two causes, and also to shine a light of hope for others suffering with terminal illness or thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

Following Friday night's launch, Mr Bird confirmed that singer Daniel O’Donnell will also be joining them for the climb on 2 April.

After his appearance on the Late Late Show last month, Mr Bird tweeted to say that Mr O’Donnell made an “amazing gesture” to him, describing it as one that he will “keep forever”.

At the time, the singer made the promise that he would join Mr Bird for the climb if he was home.

The Late Late Show launch featured a star-studded cast of volunteers, including Mary McAleese, Davy Fitzgerald, Donie O’Sullivan, Baz Ashmawy, Joanna Donnelly, Dr Harry Barry, Dermot Bannon, Karl Henry and many more, who will all be joining the climb.

Mr Bird received a devastating diagnosis of motor neurone disease last year and has since received an outpouring of support from the public, especially after a moving interview with Ryan Tubridy on the show last month.

Sitting with Tubridy on Friday night, Mr Bird said he is no longer the “broken person” he was last December.

“I tell you one thing, when I was here the last time I was crying a lot. I'm not crying anymore. The support of the public around the country has lifted me like nothing else, I mean it, amazing, thank you to everyone,” he said.

“I have found peace, I really have.”

Charlie Bird said the support of the public has lifted him. Picture: Andres Poveda
Charlie Bird said the support of the public has lifted him. Picture: Andres Poveda

Mr Bird said that the climb isn’t about him, but about raising the spirits of other people coming to terms with the difficult news of terminal illness.

“I want to do something not for me, but for other people… There's somebody sitting at home tonight, who maybe tonight or tomorrow will get a diagnosis of motor neurone disease. I want to help those people, I want to help anyone who has a terminal illness, I want to help anyone who is sick. 

"We want to shine a candle for everyone now, and that's what this climb is about. Not about me, about everybody out there,” he said.

“I now realise for me it may be the end of my journey, and in one sense, I mean this, I'm not as afraid now as I was when I first got my diagnosis, I have my family around me, my wife, my dog Tiger. I want other people to feel that too.

“When I get up into that church, I'm going to light a candle for everybody who has a terminal illness, for everybody in this country who has gone through the pandemic, for everybody who is in what I call a dark place.

Vicky Phelan wasn’t able to appear in studio, but she shared words of encouragement through a video message for Mr Bird.

“I really want to send you all my love tonight, I hope you get a huge amount of support after your appearance tonight for your climb in April, and please God all going well I'll be there with you in April,” she said.

Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, also showed her support for Mr Bird and Ms Phelan.

“With every footstep, you're going to know that not only are there people on the mountain with you, willing you on, wanting you to do well and wanting you to triumph, but there are hundreds if not millions of people who've gone before you with all sorts of hopes and all sorts of heartaches carried with them up that mountain. 

"And for all that it can be difficult, it is beautiful, and it will welcome you, and I hope it will be very very good to both of you. God bless your trip,” she said.

Due to Covid, numbers climbing the Reek on 2 April have to be limited, but people are encouraged to organise their own mountain climb, hill walk, or event to join the “Climb with Charlie”, or to donate to the cause. 

For more information on how to start your own fundraiser, visit climbwithcharlie.ie.

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