THE Clare Association in Dublin has selected 38-year-old Spanish Point hotelier John Burke as their Clare Person of the Year for 2018. He was named at a meeting of the association on Tuesday night.
Last May, John made history, when he became the first Clare man to successfully climb Mount Everest.
The mountaineer, who runs The Armada Hotel, made the climb to fulfil a personal dream and also to raise awareness and funds for the charity, Elevate, which he and his wife, Aoibhín Garrihy, established to promote well-being among young people.
Aoibhín accompanied her husband to Nepal, where he climbed Mount Everest and, on reaching the summit, he remembered his Clare roots by planting the saffron and blue flag.
Afterwards, he described the final night of the climb as hell on earth. He witnessed casualties of the mountain first-hand and could see the fear of death in the faces of other people who were making the climb with him.
On his arrival home in Shannon Airport, he was welcomed by several hundred people and the celebrations continued afterwards in The Armada Hotel.
He told The Clare Champion on Wednesday that it was great honour to be named Clare Person of the Year. It was also a great honour for all who helped him to reach the top of Everest and also the people who are supporting the Elevate programme, which is now working in some 60% to 70% of primary and secondary schools.
From January, new components for the programme will be announced.
The Clare Association award is especially welcomed by John’s wife, Aoibhín, as her grandfather, Chris Droney, the champion concertina-player from Belharbour, is a former recipient of the award.
The presentation will be made at the Clare Association’s annual dinner dance in The Red Cow Hotel, Dublin, on April 28 next.
Gerry O’Reilly, chairman of Muintir an Chlair – the Clare Association in Dublin – said it is fitting that John’s great achievements should be further honoured.
The association also presented a cheque to the West Clare Cancer Centre on Tuesday, the proceeds from its annual Martin Corry Memorial Walk last September.
The chairman thanked all those who supported the walk, including former Clare Person award-winner, Willie Keane, Kilkee, and his grandson, Daragh, as well as Martin Corry’s brother, Flan.
Miltown Malbay native Dr Tom Hillery launched the Clare Association yearbook for 2018. It contains 35 interesting articles relating to Clare, its literature, tourism, sport, business, folklore and music.
The remarkable life and achievements of the late Dr Brendan O’Regan are recalled and there are stories of the late Caitríona Lucas, the 2017 Clare Person of the Year; the men who took part in the 1917 hunger strike; the history of Aillwee Cave and its Birds of Prey Centre; the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil in Ennis and the upcoming Munster Fleadh; the Fanore school story and many more.
The yearbook is now available in newsagents in Clare and nationwide.
By Tony Mulvey