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Bernard Lucas and Deirdre Linnane. Photograph by John Kelly.

Bernard Lucas to take on toughest challenge yet for Burren Chernobyl

North Clare man, Bernard Lucas, is about to take on his most difficult challenge to date as he attempts to scale the highest peaks in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales in just three days.
Mr Lucus, along with his long time climbing companions Deirdre Linnane and Cormac Coyne, will attempt this year’s Caitríona Lucas Challenge totally unsupported and will have to take turns driving between each mountain.
Indeed, if all goes well, the trio aim to arrive on the peak of Carrauntoohill in Kerry on June 18, the date late Ms Lucas’s birthday.
Caitríona Lucas was just 41 when she lost her life while on active duty with the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coastguard in September of 2016. She was the first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die while on active duty.
Bernard, Deirdre and Cormac have chosen the Burren Chernobyl Project as the charity benefactors of this year’s event.
“I think this might be our toughest challenge yet actually. With the driving and the logistics and doing it totally unsupported. I think this is definitely going to be our toughest one yet to be honest,” he told The Clare Champion yesterday.
“We are hoping to do it over three days if we can, and if our bodies hold up. We are doing it unsupported as well, so we are driving ourselves, just to make it that bit harder.
“We are starting off at Snowdon on June 16, then we are moving on to Scafell Pike in Cumbria and then there is a six hour drive to Ben Nevis in Scotland and after that it is back to Northern Ireland to tackle Slieve Donard and then down to Carrauntoohill to finish, all going well, on June 18.
“We are going to take the driving in stages. The drive between Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis is six hours, there are three of us going so we will all take it in turn. We’re going to share it as much as possible.”
Bernard has done much of his preparation at Black Head in North Clare, while the trio also took on a portion of the Camino de Santiago earlier this year.
“We have been out training in Connemara and I do a lot in Black Head myself. I find it great because it is very steep down by the lighthouse, so it’s very good for training,” he said.
“We also did a week on the Camino back in March. That was great because we were able to just walk and walk every day. That was good because all we were doing was walking. When you train at home, life gets in the way, so it was great to go somewhere where we could walk every day.”
Established by former principal of the Ennistymon CBS, Brother Ned Heyden, the Burren Chernobyl Project has provided support to children and adults effected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for decades.
“They do great work, I think that it is absolutely fabulous what they have done for the children of Chernobyl over the past thirty years. They are just brilliant,” said Bernard.
“They are a locally based organisation in Ennistymon and a great bunch of people to work with. Nothing is ever a problem, they are so accommodating, they have been so helpful to us, so that has been amazing.”
The combined overall ascent of this year’s challenge is 5,296 metres, just short of the 5,895 metres achieved by the three climbers last year at Mount ¬Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.
The first Caitríona Lucas Challenge took place in 2018 and involved climbing 26 mountains across 32 counties in just 10 days. The following year Mr Lucas and five colleagues travelled to Greenland for the Arctic Circle trail. To donate to the Burren Chernobyl Project search for “The Caitriona Lucas Challenge 2024” on idonate.ie.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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