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Charlie Bird presented cheques to Lillian McGovern of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Stephanie Manahan of Pieta. Maxwells
climb with charlie

Charlie Bird thanks thousands for ‘day of kindness’ while presenting €3.3 million to charities

The former RTÉ correspondent hinted he may pursue another challenge if his health permits it.

LAST UPDATE | 26 Jul 2022

VETERAN BROADCASTER CHARLIE Bird paid an emotional tribute to the tens of thousands of people who contributed to the Climb With Charlie campaign while presenting cheques totalling €3,376,000 to two charities today.

The former RTÉ journalist, who is battling motor neurone disease, was joined by numerous friends, well-wishers and the Army Band 2 Brigade as he presented the cheques to the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta at a ceremony in Merrion Square in Dublin.

The gathering heard from a range of people who were heavily involved in the hugely successful charity drive including broadcaster Joe Duffy, Defence Forces Chief of Staff Sean Clancy and Fr Charlie McDonnell, a priest based in Westport, Co Mayo.

Famed traditional Irish musician Matt Molloy also played two tunes on the flute and credited the former journalist with inspiring him to finally climb Croagh Patrick after more than 30 years living at the foot of the Mayo mountain.

Several of those who addressed the ceremony described Bird and his wife Claire Mould as great sources of inspiration and friendship. The news reporter was also congratulated and photographed with media colleagues who he knew from more than 30 years in journalism.

Lillian McGovern of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association presented a ‘Hand of Friendship’ relic to Bird after asking what one gets for someone who has raised more than €3.3 million for charity. Joe Duffy, who MC’d the event, added that unfortunately there wasn’t one for everyone in the audience.

Addressing the gathering with the help of a voice bank communication app, Bird said today was one of the happiest days of his life and described 2 April, when the Croagh Patrick climb took place, as a “national day of kindness, friendship and, yes, celebration.”

“None of us knows what is around the corner for any of us. Last October, I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I have had many dark days since then. But remarkably, this morning is one of the happiest days of my life,” Bird said.

“The people who I have to thank for this are the tens of thousands of people from all corners of Ireland and abroad who made this day possible with your unwavering support for Climb With Charlie.”

Climb With Charlie was founded by the veteran news reporter following his terminal diagnosis of motor neurone disease in November 2021.

It gained a swell of support across Ireland and a huge number of well-known figures joined Bird on the Croagh Patrick climb on 2 April.

126Climb With Charlie Charlie Bird and a host of friends and well-wishers took part in the 2 April Croagh Patrick climb. Michael Mc Laughlin Michael Mc Laughlin

Along with several thousand people taking part in the Croagh Patrick climb, tens of thousands of people also took part in almost two hundred separate fundraisers across Ireland, the US, South Africa, Australia and Spain.

An emotional Bird told the crowd that the current phase of the initiative is coming to a close but hinted that he may pursue another challenge in the future if his health permits it.

“This phase of Climb With Charlie is coming to an end. But I have promised myself, as long as I’m alive I will continue to extend the hand of friendship to everyone and if my health is okay, there may be another challenge for Climb With Charlie,” he said.

The journalist paid a warm tribute to the volunteers and organisations who contributed to the success of the campaign.

He also explained the meaning behind five candles he lit in the church at the top of Croagh Patrick after completing the climb in April.

“The first was for my friend Vicky Phelan. The second was for all those like myself with a terminal illness. The third one was for all those who are in a dark place and have their own personal mountains to climb. The fourth was to celebrate everyone who worked so hard in the battle against the pandemic. The last one was in stillness for the people of Ukraine,” Bird said.

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