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Body recovered Local councillor warns of dangers for climbers following Sligo mountain tragedy

The body of the young man was recovered from under the Anacoona cliffs in an area between the Ben Bulben and Ben Whisken mountains at about 9.20pm

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Irish Coast Guard helicopter

Irish Coast Guard helicopter

Irish Coast Guard helicopter

A local Sligo county councillor who lives five miles from yesterday’s mountain tragedy that saw a man die after he fell from a cliff has spoken of the dangers of climbing in the area.

The body of the young man was recovered from under the Anacoona cliffs in an area between the Ben Bulben and Ben Whisken mountains at about 9.20pm.

A 27-year-old Spanish woman was also rescued from a dangerous cliff in the Gleniff Horseshoe area after a passerby who witnessed the male hiker falling alerted emergency services.

Members of Sligo/Leitrim mountain rescue team who were winched on to the mountain by the Strandhill-based 118 coastguard rescue helicopter made their way on to the ledge where they rescued the woman who was said to be “frantic”.

Cllr Donal Gilroy, who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, said he would not attempt to climb the cliffs in the area as they are known to be very dangerous.

"I was only on Claire Byrne’s radio show a month ago, warning people about the dangers," he said. "It’s not a day to be saying I told you so, but it’s going to happen again.

“It’s not a place for walkers,” he added, “it’s a place for people with experience and knowledge of the mountains.

“It’s a serious climb and every year the Sligo Leitrim Rescue team have to go up several times and the helicopter is regularly out having to airlift people who have found themselves trapped on a cliff.

“I think the attraction is Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave, which is supposed to be Ireland’s highest cave. People have gone up and climbed into the cave and then turned around, looked down and realised that they were suffering from vertigo because there is an immediate 200 foot fall.”

Cllr Gilroy said videos on social media including YouTube and TikTok had led to an “explosion" in numbers accessing the area.

“There has been a huge increase in numbers,” he revealed. “One Sunday afternoon I went up as one of the farmers had brought it to my attention. He just said, go up and see for yourself.

“I sat for about an hour and in the space of that time I saw 40 people climbing over a gate with a big sign on it saying private property no trespassing. The farmers were highlighting it from point of view that people were going on to their land. People were going up there with dogs and that’s a problem because there is sheep farming on the mountain. But when I went up to look for myself straightaway it jumped out at me that this was so dangerous. I mean I live beside it, I’ve climbed Kilimanjaro but I would not go up there, absolutely no way.

“Last December a lady fell down that same mountain. From what  I've been told she slipped and slid about 200 foot down the mountain and woke up five days later in the hospital with quite a few injuries that will be with her for the rest of her life.”

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Meanwhile, Alan Sayers of the Sligo/Leitrim mountain rescue team said yesterday’s tragedy could have been even worse if the young couple’s plight had not been witnessed by a member of the public who raised the alarm.

Mr Sayers said the woman was taken off a ledge in a very inaccessible part of the mountain.

“The helicopter would not have been able to get in close there, but they winched eight of us on to the cliff and we abseiled down to her,” he said.

Members of Donegal mountain rescue team assisted in the recovery of the man’s body close to an area known locally as “the miner’s track”.

Mr Sayers said it was a “very distressing experience” for the woman. He added that the mountain rescue team were thankful that she had been rescued safely as conditions were quite misty at the time.

Sligo Leitrim mountain rescue team have carried out “multiple rescues” in this area over the past six months, according to Mr Sayers.

Mr Sayers recommended that anyone hiking in this area should be experienced and be well prepared and wearing proper footwear.

The woman who was rescued did not suffer any serious physical injuries.

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