This is a site in Memory of Ger McDonnell from the EE classes of '92 and '93. We all have very fond memories of Ger, ...
This is a site in Memory of Ger McDonnell from the EE classes of '92 and '93. We all have very fond memories of Ger, and some of those are shared here.
Tribute created by:
I first met Gerard at The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage He came in with his KTM Motorcycle, I instantly liked him as did everyone that met him I think. He had a presence about him ,he was quick with a smile and a greeting and you could tell right away it was genuine. He was the kind of guy that when he walked into a room people would gravitate towards him. I rode Motorcycles with him a few times and ran into him a couple of times in the mountains hiking and once in a while around Anchorage. Mostly I saw him and talked with him when he came into the motorcycle shop where i worked from1995 to 2007 I think it was around 2002 when i first met him there. . My wife and I moved from Alaska in 2007 just before we left we went to the new Irish bar in anch. Gerard and Annie came in I said hello and Gerard briefly introduced my wife and I to Annie. That was St. Patricks day 2007. I doubt Annie would remember the meeting was brief he told me he was picked for the K2 expedition that night . My wife and I moved 4000 miles away the following month. Fast forward to last week 05/25/2013. A friend placed a link to the book one mountain a thousand peaks . My wife and I was floored. this is very late five years late my deepest sympathy and condolences to Annie and Gerards Family. Gerard was truely one of the best individuals I have ever met a true salt of the earth kinda guy. I still remember his fantastic smile and friendly manor these five years later as if it were yesterday .so much so that i feel compelled to leave this comment 5 years late.
Ger was a man who caught fear by the horns..a genuine hero of a man, rest in peace and tranquility fella.
Living abroad I don't read the Irish newspapers that often but when a colleague brought back an Evening Herald, i was reading the story re this Ger McDonnell who died on K2 and bit by bit, it dawned on me that I knew this guy from my DCU days. So I googled the story hoping not to get confirmation of what I thought. Unfortunately I found this site and saw the pictures and the tributes from people like Tom and memories came back to me.
One memory I have is of Ger sitting in a shopping trolley whilst it was being pushed down a Hill at the Cork Jazz fest back in 1989. :-)
Ger was obviously a hero. I always had a soft spot for him in college and I felt I had to write a tribute from someone who knew him a little from the drunken slipper and DCU bar days. I wish to send my condolences to his family, partner and friends.
May he rest in peace
Deirdre Ecock - AF91
Goodbye my friend.
I hope you got the words I whispered to you in the crowds of the Kilcornan community hall.
I’m sure I am not alone in trying to understand the pull the mountain had on you. But how can I deny you what you understood and loved - just to be able to see you one more time.
Your death opened an old door -even that is wrong , for the door was never closed. Instead I rediscovered it again, and in it I met voices and faces from the past. They too looked like they had captured snowflakes in their hair on some remote landscape.
For this I thank you.
I also thank you for making me question what was important in life whenever your grinning, goggled face appeared upon yet another conquered pinnacle.
I’ll miss the random e-mails with sentences like “F@#$ it!! Jeesuz, I've been wanting to make it to that thing for years.”, “Bloody thing must weigh 5lbs but it's black so my head shouldn't look so fat.” Or “So embrace the nappy changings.” And always the few lines of Irish so I had to go look up a dictionary.
I also spoke to my kids of daddy’s friend this weekend. Of the bearded man and his effortless grin. Of his conquests snowy white and softly red. Of his death by glacial ice. I will remind them again and again as time goes on of the doves released outside the parish hall.
Well after the Memorial on Sunday it's hard to find the words to express how much admiration I had for Ger as it was articulated so well by his brother JJ and indeed his climbing partner Clare and also by Pat Falvey. It was great to see so many of the class turn up from far and wide to pay their respects to the family and celebrate the man himself.
I must have tried starting to write this about a dozen times but just didn't know where to start. I feel so proud to have known Ger and feel privileged to have been able to call myself a friend of his. Although I was friendly with Ger in first and second year in college it was only when we both failed 2nd year that I really got to know Ger well. It would be fair to say that myself and Ger weren't exactly focused on the academic side of EE and preferred to throw our energies into practically anything else, soccer, rugby, racket ball and of course socialising. In 3rd year Ger worked in Kinsale with Eli-Lilly and I worked with ESB and used any excuse I could find to work in ESB Cork so that I could go on the rip with Ger in Kinsale. Ger was always up for the craic and when you were with him he seemed to always raise your spirits no matter how down you were, he was a tonic.
I remember parties in the country manor that he had rented for the summer along with a bunch of other students working in Eli-Lilly. We both shared a love of Trad music and we’d go for pints in one of the many pubs in Kinsale which also had a live trad band there. A favourite song of ours was Peggy Gordon and we’d request it from the singer as soon as we’d land into the pub, on our 3rd or fourth visit to the pub the singer saw us coming into the bar and obviously thought that he’d avoid the harassment of myself and Ger hounding him to play it and so stopped midway through a jig of some kind and blasted straight into Peggy Gordon accompanied by the not so melodic tones of myself and Ger.
I’ll ever meet a man like Ger McDonnell again as long as I live, he’s love of life and his vibrancy was palpable, his fairness in the way he treated everyone was an example to everyone, he was sensitive, kind and understanding. I was constantly amazed by Ger's humility, he had no notions about himself and was totally unaware of his own attractiveness in every sense of the word. My wife Eunice who was my girlfriend at the time went into collect myself and Ger’s official graduation photographs. She went to the counter and asked for the photographs for Walsh and McDonnell, the young lady behind the counter came back a short time later with the 2 framed photos but with an obvious look of disappointment on her face, when Eunice asked what was wrong she said “I was really looking forward to this guy coming in to collect his photo, we all think he’s gorgeous” needless to say Eunice didn’t have to clarify that it was Ger and not me that they were hoping to see walk in the door!
In general people who are as focused as Ger had to be to become the greatest mountain climber and explorer this country has ever produced, lack other elements to their personality. They can be selfish, self obsessed and ruthless which are common traits in order to focus on their own goals. Ger managed to throw away the typecast and prove that you can be a total gentleman and still achieve what he did. In one of his emails he sent in 2006 he said that he regretted that he couldn’t make the annual Jim Finn stag in November but he was excited about being in the southern hemisphere for the first time, when I first read it I thought that Ger was taking a well earned rest on the beaches of Australia or somewhere equally idyllic. Not so. Ger was on his way further south again, on his way to cross the Antarctic but never once made mention of it and this only months after being air lifted off K2 after his first attempt at the mountain.
It was this type of humility that was so unique and so much part of what I loved about Ger, there are many who display false modesty in the hope that they will get further plaudits but with Ger it was 100% genuine. He never wanted or sought notoriety, he was as modest as you can get and full of integrity. When I met Ger in Dublin after conquering Everest I had a pull-out from a National Geographic magazine that another friend of mine gave me to get Ger to sign for his son. The pull out was from a feature done by the National Geographic released by coincidence the same time as Ger climbed Everest. I had it in my pocket with me but I just couldn’t take it out and ask Ger to sign it, not because I felt uncomfortable but because I knew that Ger would die a death being asked to autograph. In fact that night Ger never once mentioned his momentous achievement, he was too busy asking me and the rest of his friends who went to meet him about how we were doing and what was going on in our lives since we last met. Unbelievable.
Like so many over the last 2 weeks I have felt a very real sense of loss upon hearing of Ger’s death and thoughts of him and to be frank, tears for him, never seem far away. His death has had a profound impact on me but I was comforted by talking to the rest of the class over the weekend that they too are going through the same roller coaster of emotions. He’s probably looking down on us and saying “you feckin luadramáns, what are yee at” and having a right laugh at us all. But whatever we’re feeling I can’t imagine the intensity of loss that Ger’s nearest and dearest are going through.
Anyway life has to move on and we all have to come to terms with the fact that we’ll never see that heart warming and radiant smile and his hearty high laugh, mind you his garlic belches we can probably live without ;-)
Ger, you are gone, ach a Chara, you’ll never be forgotten.
Unlike many of you, Ger and I were rarely close during our years in DCU though I too have some very fond memories of this very good humored and very good looking red head in our class. I was amazed when I heard that he had summitted Everest as the only climbing I can recall Ger doing at DCU was as himself and Mark K would stride over desks to the back of BG03 or a Henry Grattan classroom - naturally always on time for the lecture!
Coincidentally, I was just completing Greg Mortenson's biography "Three Cups of Tea" when I heard the devastating news from K2. As I checked the internet for updates and prayed fervently that he would be miraculously saved and turn up in a Balti village as Mortenson had, I could only imagine the anguish his girlfriend and family must have been suffering.
My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones and his many, many close friends - I hope they can get some comfort on their sad loss as they read the countless tributes to our remarkable classmate.
Fair play to Ger - he knew what his dreams were and he had the courage to fulfill them.
Lisa Ainsworth EE93.