An eleven year old Bansha girl has created history by becoming the youngest girl to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Proudly wearing her Tipperary jersey, Sarah O’Neill reached the top of Kilimanjaro with her mother Sinead and a group of friends who raised money for Aware.
An elated and exhausted Sinead was given a hero’s welcome when she returned home on Wednesday of last week.
Sarah reached the summit on Monday, August 29.
The adventure for Sarah started when her mother Sinead, who works as as a Special Needs Assistant in Scoil Ruain in Killenaule, returned home after attending a talk by adventurer Ian McKeever who had asked VEC staff and students to consider taking on the Kilimanjaro challenge.
Sinead was inspired by Ian and she went home and mentioned it to eleven year old daughter Sarah about doing the climb.
Sarah’s first response was “No way, are you mad?”.
However, having slept on it and thought about it, Sarah decided to give it a go. Sarah was interested in Gaelic football, swimming, tennis and wanted to do something new
She went into serious training for her expedition climbing, Log Na Coille, Galtee Mountains, Comeragh Mountains, Carrauntoohill, Glendalough and Slievenamon. She and her mother joined the Galtee Mountain walking club and went walking twice a week. Her fitness levels rose tremendously and she needed to adjust her diet to ensure she was fit and ready. Sarah dedicated a lot of time and hard work to ensure her body was ready for the climb.
Nineteen people from South Tipperary signed up to take on Kilimanjaro.
The monies raised by South Tipperary group will be put back into services, programmes and support groups in South Tipperary offered by Aware. The group of 19 was broken up over two trips. Five participated in the trip from 27th June – 6th July; and the remaining 14 participated from 22nd August to 31st August.
Two staff members, David O’Brien (Teacher, St. Joseph’s School, Ferryhouse) and Brigid Ryan (Careworker, St. Joseph’s School, Ferryhouse) and three students, David O’Connell (St. Joseph’s School, Ferryhouse); and Luke Mullally and Aodhan Maher (both from Scoil Ruain, Killenaule) set off on their trip and arrived in Kilimanjaro on Monday 27th June. They took to the mountain the next morning and reached the summit on the 5th July which was a huge achievement for each of them.
The remaining 14 arrived in Kilimanjaro on 23rd August and started on their climb early the next morning. The group spent 6 days reaching the summit which they did on 29 August They returned to Dublin on 31 August.
Climbing in the second South Tipperary VEC group were: the CEO of South Tipperary VEC, Fionuala McGeever, her sister & local business woman Orla Sheehan, Scoil Ruain School teacher Leah McNamara, Sinead O’Neill (SNA of Scoil Ruain, Killenaule); Sarah O’Neill , and the following VEC students Keith Hickey, James Hindley, Killian Skorka, Amanda DaSilva (Scoil Ruain, Killenaule); Kerry Ann Cleary (Comeragh College, Carrick-on-Suir); Etain Ryan (St. Ailbe’s School, Tipperary Town); Kieran King, Ashlee Hally, Michaela Peters (Coláiste Dún Iascaigh, Cahir). The students varied in age from 15 to 18