The body of mountaineer and adventurer Ian McKeever is due to arrive back in Ireland this morning, before his funeral mass tomorrow. The 42-year-old record-holding climber died after he was struck by lightning as he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro on Wednesday last week.

Ian's removal will take place at the Church of St Laurence O'Toole this evening in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, before his funeral Mass tomorrow morning, followed by a private cremation service.

According to Breaking News, one of Ian's friends, Eugene Grey, said the reality of his friend's death is only hitting home now.

"It's been a very long, difficult week, in particular for the family," he said.

"It's probably in the last 48 hours that the reality of the tragedy has set in, with the final funeral arrangements and with the family travelling out to Zurich to meet his body for Ian's final journey back to Ireland, back to his home and back to themselves."

Ian's fiancee, Anna, was with him during the ill-fated climb and had to be helped down the mountain by rescue teams before being transported to a local hospital for treatment.

A lecturer and broadcaster from Lough Dan in Co Wicklow, Mr McKeever regularly mentored hikers, including many Irish schoolchildren, through his Kilimanjaro Achievers organisation.

He is famous for his achievements during a decade-long mountaineering career in which he set a world record for the fastest successful summiting of the highest peaks on all seven continents, finishing the feat in 156 days in 2007.

The McKeever family has said it would like to express its sincere gratitude for all the kindness and magnitude of coverage regarding Ian's untimely death.

It said the coverage would ensure that his eternal memory will remain in the hearts of those whom he touched.

Ian McKeeverNick Bradshaw