Slate House walk funds donated to SEMRA and Croí Cora

Moss Fitzgerald presenting a cheque to Maureen O'Brien of SEMRA (left), and Carmel O’Gorman presenting a cheque to Geraldine O’Grady, Croí Cora in Kilbehenny last Friday night. Pictured l-r: Caroline Conroy, Maureen O'Brien, SEMRA; Tony Fitzgerald, Moss Fitzgerald, Noel Culbert, SEMRA; Geraldine O'Grady, Croí Cora; John Kearney and Chris Pires, SEMRA. (Picture: Joe Prendergast)

Funds raised for two worthy local groups, the South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association (SEMRA) and Croí Cora, were presented last Friday night at an event in Kilbehenny.

A charity walk to the Slate House in the Galtee mountain range took place at the end of September, led by local expert Jimmy Barry. The funds raised were recently presented in the Kilbehenny Community Centre, with organisers attesting to the help of many wonderful people who gave their time and energy on the day of the walk.

The night brought together many people who had a real connection with the Galtee Mountains. SEMRA shared their stories of Galtee Mountain rescues, the terrain they have to work with, the weather conditions, mapping, and how they have to dig deep emotionally at times to deal with life and death situations. Those who attended were all in gratitude for the amazing dedication, training and work that SEMRA carry out, putting their own lives in the balance at times to save and help others. 

The fundraiser came about off the back of April’s ‘Climb with Charlie’ local fundraiser, which was organised by Carmel O’Gorman, friends and the Kilbehenny community for Ger and Jackie Spillane. Ger sadly passed away on 22nd July, but we hope the funds raised during the ‘Climb with Charlie’ event will benefit in some small way Jackie and Ger’s family.

The walk to the Slate House was thoroughly enjoyed by all who participated, mainly because the famous Jimmy Barry led the walk. Jimmy has immense knowledge of the Galtee Mountains and was happy to pass on stories, point out unique plants and trees, animals and wildlife and places of interest along the route, and hidden gems that even those living on the Galtees were unaware of.

The pain and loss of a loved one is a very personal journey and one we all deal with at some stage in our lives, but nothing can prepare you for the trauma and shock of Cora’s passing on April 2nd this year. Geraldine, who is Cora’s sister, attended the get-together on Friday night and said she really came to meet and thank the people of SEMRA.

Geraldine told us about the trauma of that afternoon, the difficulty in processing all that happened to Cora, and the care and support she received at King’s Yard. Geraldine described a scene that won’t ever be forgetten: she said that seeing SEMRA stand guard in a way over Cora when they brought her down from the Galtees was something that will stay with her. She could feel the respect and care they gave Cora, and she saw how they stood beside her in stillness, protecting her. They didn’t leave until they had to go; they stayed.

Maureen O’Brien thanked Geraldine for her words of kindness and mentioned that respect was at the core of SEMRA.

The grief was tangible. We could all feel the immense pain of the absence of Cora. It surrounded everyone in that room for a few minutes. We all connected and cried – a natural response – and that’s what communities who get together are good at – they create a ‘natural response’ to a circumstance that needs help.

The €2,213 raised from donations at the walk to the Slate House were given in support and kindness to Croí Cora and SEMRA. We wish both SEMRA and the O’Grady family every good wish going forward and we thank everyone that donated, helped and supported The Slate House Fundraiser on the day.

With best regards from Kilbehenny Community Centre.