It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Ger Hogan, one of the pioneers of mountaineering in Kerry. Tom Finn’s journals record some hair raising adventures in the company of Ger and his friends as they set about establishing the sport of mountaineering in Kerry in the 1950’s. In later years, Ger took a keen interest in the adventures of others – always eager to share his love of the mountains with a new generation of mountaineers.
Ger, as a Director of Hogan’s Funeral Parlour, accompanied many of his mountaineering friends on their last journey. A quiet man of immense humanity, Ger famously promised that he would not retire until he had fulfilled a promise he made to Úna Finn, which was to take care of her on her final journey. Ger presented the above photo to the Finn family when Úna died aged 93 in October 2018. It was with some shock that we learned of his death last Wednesday.
Climbing the highest mountain in Ireland on the morning of the Winter Solstice is a longstanding tradition in Kerry, which was started by Mike Ward, Bronagh Tarrant and Nuala Finn years ago. It was a regular fixture of the Tuesday Night mountaineers, which Tomás Crowley memorably called the “Dawn Raid.” The aim has always been to reach the summit in time to see the sun rise on the shortest day of the year – weather permitting.
In recent years, persistent bad weather has meant that the Winter Solstice climb was more or less abandoned. This year was different. Conditions looked very good on Friday 20, December and Mike Slattery put out a call on Whats App, giving the rendezvous as the Lidl carpark in Tralee @ 4.50 or Lisleibane carpark @ 5.45.
14 mountaineers turned up in Lisleibane, from 11 years of age to 60+. Patricia McGuirk was leading another group of five and there was one solo climber. Conditions were perfect. It was mild, there was some cloud cover on the mountains and a peek-a-boo quarter moon gave some light, but not enough to put the torches in the bag. At 6am we headed for the summit.
the log | weather forecast
06.45 am: the Hags Glen.
07.07 am: Bottom of the Devil’s Ladder.
There was a lot of surface water from melting snow.
07.51 am: Daybreak at the top of the Devil’s Ladder.
08.10 am: heading for the summit.Photo: Ian
08.30 am+: Summit
09.03am Cloud breaks on the summit.
09.12 am: leaving the summit.
09.23 am: heading for the Heavenly Gates.
09.44 am: Crossing Collin’s Gully, above the Heavenly Gates.
10.42 am: crossing the outflow at Loch Gouragh, Hags Glen.
11.32 am: Lisleibane Carpark.
Log | Stats
the mountaineering collective | the Winter Solstice 2019
At the Water’s Edge: Two Boats – Around Ireland by Kayak
At the Water’s Edge
is based on a log that Timmy Flavin kept during a 942-mile paddle around the coast of Ireland with Donal Dowd, a kayaker and mountaineer. They left Courtown harbour in Co Wexford on May 11, 1991 and returned just four weeks later, paddling an average of 50 kilometres (31 miles) a day.
Timmy Flavin died of cancer four years ago and his wife Bríd Farrell has published an illustrated book based on his log. It includes tributes from Dowd, other paddlers, and friends. Cathal Cudden and Bernard Forde, well known in the mountaineering community, were involved in the design and publishing of the book.
To Order a copy:
At the Water’s Edge: Two Boats sells at €15 a copy.
The book is also available in Polymath Bookshop in Tralee (+353667125035) and Woulfe’s Bookshop in Listowel (+35366821021).