Climb with Charlie | 

Charlie Bird says ‘this is your day’ to supporters as he hands over €3m raised for charity

Members of the armed forces, media and public came together to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Charlie Bird
Stephanie Manahan of Pieta, Charlie Bird and Lillian McGovern of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. Picture: Collins

Stephanie Manahan of Pieta, Charlie Bird and Lillian McGovern of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association. Picture: Collins

Lillian McGovern of IMNDA with Charlie Bird and partner Claire and their dog Tiger, and Stephanie Manahan of Pieta. Picture: Robbie Reynolds

Lillian McGovern of IMNDA with Charlie Bird and partner Claire and their dog Tiger, and Stephanie Manahan of Pieta. Picture: Robbie Reynolds

Matt Molloy playing the flute. Picture: Collins

Matt Molloy playing the flute. Picture: Collins

David CendonIndependent.ie

Members of the armed forces, media and public came together to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Charlie Bird today as he handed over the €3 million fundraised during the momentous climb up Croagh Patrick.

The former RTÉ broadcaster celebrated the ceremony with his wife Claire and loyal dog Tiger at Merrion Square Park this morning, surrounded by close friends and admirers from all walks of life, including presenter Joe Duffy, Defence Forces chief of staff Sean Clancy and Father Charles McDonnell of the Westport Parish.

Speaking directly to Charlie, Duffy compared him to George Bernard Shaw and celebrated Charlie’s “incredible” days as an investigative journalist for RTÉ, days “we should remember with great gratitude”.

“You have generated a feeling in this country Charlie, and you did it in less than a year. This feeling is what we will all remember most,” Duffy said.

Lt Gen Clancy of the Defence Forces said he stood in awe of the triumph of what Charlie achieved in the past year.

Speaking on Charlie’s appearance on The Late Late Show, he praised Charlie’s “courage, determination, and resilience”.

"These are values and attributes that we, in the Defence Forces, try to espouse. But they were just jumping out of the television that day,” he said.

“What has followed since has had an enormous impact on society as a whole.

“The second of April was indeed a great triumph. But it was a triumph not only for the money and the fundraising, but because of the courage and a spirit which it symbolised. It is no doubt that it will be etched in our memories and our experiences for a lifetime,” Lt Gen Clancy said.

Chief executive of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) Lillian McGovern thanked Charlie for “reaching out the hand of friendship” and presented him with a framed piece of two hands joined together in friendship.

Lillian McGovern of IMNDA with Charlie Bird and partner Claire and their dog Tiger, and Stephanie Manahan of Pieta. Picture: Robbie Reynolds

Lillian McGovern of IMNDA with Charlie Bird and partner Claire and their dog Tiger, and Stephanie Manahan of Pieta. Picture: Robbie Reynolds

Chief executive of Pieta Stephanie McGovern communicated a similar sentiment, saying that Charlie was and “always will be a member of the Pieta family”.

Father McDonnell compared Charlie to the statue of a Celtic warrior that he and Claire had presented to the people of Westport.

“We are here today to acknowledge and to thank our own warrior who has brought us to this place,” he said.

"A man who out of his weakness and in tremendous strength, not just motivated the country but brought the country alive again. At a time when we were coming out of winter, coming out of darkness and coming out of Covid. He really ignited something in us all.

“Charlie and Claire and Tiger you've become our friends.”

Along with presenting two cheques of €1,680,000 each to the IMNDA and Pieta, Charlie and those present were treated to live music from the Army Band 2 Brigade from Athlone.

Charlie even indulged in conducting the brass band for a song, surprising Claire and his friends. A fitting act for a man who conducted the national mood by leading this act of charity.

Afterwards, former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke exclaimed: “You should be in the Concert Hall Charlie.”

Also playing at the ceremony was Charlie’s close friend and musician Matt Molloy, who played two songs in honour of Charlie: Easter Snow and Stony Steps.

The latter of which was inspired by the climb up Croagh Patrick.

After the renditions and speakers, many of the public approached and introduced themselves to the emotional Charlie, thanking him for the strong presence and impact he has had on the Irish people.

Matt Molloy playing the flute. Picture: Collins

Matt Molloy playing the flute. Picture: Collins

Rounding off the speeches, Charlie, Claire and Tiger came up to close off the final chapter of the Climb with Charlie Campaign.

“Last October, I was diagnosed with a terminal illness and I have had many dark days since then. But remarkably here this morning is one of the happiest days of my life,” he said.

Charlie expressed his deep gratitude, thanking the public, the charities, and the media that supported the climb.

“To all of you out there, this is your day. You have all shown love and kindness and of course extended the hand of friendship. This is your day of celebration,” he said.

“I had an awful fear of dying when I was first diagnosed, but every one of you out there has helped me so much. This is not a glib remark, I love everyone who has helped me on my journey and we must all continue to extend the hand of friendship. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”


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