All children climb trees.
Aside from that, my first taste of the outdoor life was when I went hillwalking and orienteering with Dad as a teen. Together we took part in the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon in May ’99. I got sick and wasn’t able to finish though, so we came down from the mountains on the second day (of the two day event).
I joined the Reserve Defence Forces as soon as I could and have served with them ever since, aside from a brief hiatus while in college studying for my first degree in Limerick Institute of Technology.
In first year in LIT I was elected Clubs and Societies Officer for the Students’ Union. This was in the very early years of LIT’s hugely successful Outdoor Club; which, with the promise of a surfing trip on the horizon, I joined immediately!
The OC, as it’s known by members, is now the largest and longest running non-competitive sports club in the college.
I’m happy to be the longest serving member of the club after founder and lecturer Dr. Alan Kavanagh, a kitesurfing enthusiast from Co. Clare whose fantastic wave riding videos can be found on Vimeo under the name Windchild.
A busy work life means I don’t get to get away with the club as often as I’d like these days, but I still manage to take some time off each summer to spend a weekend falling off a surfboard with my club mates.
I’m by far the most enthusiastic terrible surfer you’ll ever meet. Blind optimism convinces me I’ll get the hang of it one day but in the meantime I’m happy to just be in the water quoting Point Break between wipeouts.
When it comes to dry land, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010 with what I later found out were three dislocated ribs.
It was an experience I’ll never forget and one I look back on fondly, despite the final ascent being the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
On the descent, I turned around to look back at the summit, laughed, and said “F*ck me! I just climbed Kilimanjaro!”
“You did, and supermen have tried what you just did and failed,” replied seasoned Kilimanjaro climber and ex-Royal Marine Graham Tobin.
It was one of the most inspirational and motivating things ever said to me, and might be at least partially to blame for the (possibly delusional) idea of climbing the remaining six of the Seven Summits.
Oakleaf Adventure, founded in 2016, is intended to serve as a catalogue and journal of all of my future adventures, both at home and abroad.