Charlie Bird, the retired RTÉ broadcaster who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease last year, reached the summit of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo on Saturday after raising more than €1.8 million for charity.
More than 10,000 people took part in more than 200 "Climb with Charlie" fundraisers across the country on Saturday to raise money for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and suicide prevention charity Pieta House.
The former RTÉ presenter was greeted with a raucous round of applause by all those climbing Croagh Patrick when he reached the summit shortly after noon on Saturday.
He also shared an emotional moment with singer Daniel O'Donnell and RTÉ Late Late Show presenter Ryan Tubridy after completing the climb.
Charlie Bird with Daniel O’Donnell and Ryan Tubridy on top of Croagh Patrick today.For those of us witnessing this moment it seemed like the top of the world.This man’s bravery and courage has inspired a nation and reminded us of how great we can be?? pic.twitter.com/rfHnyX2F6d— Padraig O'Reilly Photographer (@padraig_reilly) April 2, 2022
Bird lit five candles at the summit of Croagh Patrick, one for Covid-19 frontline workers, one for everyone with a terminal illness, one for people in Ukraine, one for people who are in a dark place, and one for CervicalCheck campaigner Vicky Phelan, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer following an incorrect smear test result.
Phelan intended to join Bird on Saturday's climb but announced several weeks ago that she would be unable to take part due to health reasons. The Limerick woman was represented by 11 family members on Croagh Patrick on Saturday.
The climb began at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday from a car park at the foot of the mountain. Bird began his climb an hour later after first releasing a dove.
Bird has received hundreds of letters of support from people all over Ireland and told RTÉ that all of those people were in his thoughts on Saturday.
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins sent "every good wish and warmest support" ahead of the climb on Saturday morning.
"Charlie's strength and dignity over recent months has been a source of true inspiration to people across Ireland and beyond. I know that the public will be with him every step of the way," Higgins said on Twitter.
Every good wish and warmest support to @charliebird49 in his climb of Croagh Patrick today. Charlie's strength and dignity over recent months has been a source of true inspiration to people across Ireland and beyond. I know that the public will be with him every step of the way.— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) April 2, 2022
Click here to learn more or to donate to the Climb with Charlie campaign.