Charlie Bird greets Vicky Phelan on the first anniversary of his ‘memorable’ ascent of Croagh Patrick

Former RTÉ journalist Charlie Bird encourages others to light a candle to mark the first anniversary of the Climb with Charlie fundraiser.

e revealed in October 2021 that he had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease.

On April 2 last year, he and his supporters climbed Croagh Patrick to highlight the physical and mental struggles of people with the disease and raise money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and suicide prevention charity Pieta. The efforts raised more than €3 million.

Climb with Charlie walks also took place in the US, South Africa, Australia and Spain, with approximately 10,000 supporters participating.

After completing the climb, Bird lit five candles in the small chapel atop Croagh Patrick.

He said he will light the same candles at home this weekend to commemorate the event and to remember some special people, including the late cervical cancer campaigner. Vicky Philanwhom he has often described as his hero.

Mrs Phelan passed away last November 14 at Milford Hospice in Limerick. She had hoped to take part in last April’s climb, but was too ill at the time.

“This weekend is the anniversary of Croagh Patrick’s big climb last April,” said Bird. “To mark that momentous occasion this weekend, we are lighting the same candles we lit in that lovely church at the stench.

“The first candle I light is in memory of the great Vicky Phelan, who is not only my hero, but a hero to everyone in the land. She was so brave.

“The second candle is to show support for everyone in the country who has a terminal illness.

“The third candle we light for everyone who wakes up every morning in a dark place. None of us know what anguish someone we are next to goes through.

“The fourth candle is to show solidarity with all of our amazing frontline workers, who are there every day to help one of us.

“The last candle is to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who have been going through hell for over a year now.

“All five of these candles are about extending the hand of friendship. And I invite everyone across the country to light a candle in solidarity.”

Bird said his health has taken a turn for the worse recently, but he will continue to support others as long as he can.

Pieta CEO Stephanie Manahan said: “Charlie has become part of the Pieta family and we are so honored and grateful for all he has done for our good cause.

“Climb with Charlie has been a great initiative and has brought so many people together that it is only fitting that we celebrate the anniversary.

“Not only did Charlie make the amazing donation to Pieta, but the work he’s done to raise awareness of the services we provide has been so important in helping people who need to get in touch with us,” she said.