Memorial footbridge to remember Athlone climber

A footbridge has been opened in the foothills of Carrauntouhill in Kerry in memory of Athlone woman Angela Kenny, who drowned in a freak accident after climbing the mountain on December 30, 1987. Angela, the daughter of Tom and Rita Kenny from Arcadia, was an experienced mountain climber and was aged just 25 at the time. She had been climbing in the foothills of Carrauntouhill with two friends John Beatty and Cyril Dolan. All three were members of the Limerick Climbing Club and were crossing the Gaddagh River while returning from their climb when Angela was swept away and she drowned. Angela, John and Cyril had crossed the river that morning at 10.45am but when they were returning from their climb at 3.45pm on December 30, 1987, they found the river had become flooded. The three had formed a circle as they were crossing the river and as they approached the centre of the river Angela was swept away. The two men managed to reach the other bank but could find no trace of Angela. Her body was recovered the next day. Her brother John, who lives in Coosan, told the Westmeath Independent this week that this was a difficult time for his family as they could find out no information about what was happening. "At the time there were no mobiles. I was trying to contact gardai in Killarney but they wouldn't give us any information," he said. "I remember ringing the hotel in Tralee at the time (where the club was staying) to get information." John remembered that Angela had spent that Christmas at home in Arcadia and her mother had dropped her at the bus station so she could get the bus back to Limerick where she was teaching in Crescent Comprehensive College. He said this week that he knows his mother, who passed away in 2008, would have loved to have seen the bridge opened across the Gaddagh River and named in Angela's honour. Mrs Kenny was unaware of any plans for the bridge when she passed away. Speaking about the footbridge, John said: "It's tragic that Angela had to lose her live to have a bridge named after her. We were always wondering for years was there anything we could do to honour her. This area has been made safe forever more for all future climbers." John paid tribute to Con Moriarty, a mountaineer who was the main instigator behind the project. John explained that shortly after Angela's death Con brought the CEO of Liebherr Container Cranes out to Hag's Glen to suggest building a bridge across the river, the route used by climbers. The then CEO of the company agreed that Liebherr would sponsor the project. He also thanked Liebherr for providing sponsorship for the bridge. John told the Westmeath Independent this week that it took some time to build the bridge due to the planning process and getting permission from all of the individual landowners involved, but the bridge was officially opened on June 13 this year. John was in attendance for the official opening, which was performed by Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan. The Mayor of Kerry Cllr Pat Leahy and the climbers who were with Angela on December 30, 1987, John Beatty and Cyril Dolan, were also present. Remembering his late sister this week, John said Angela was very much an outdoors person and loved climbing, cycling and windsurfing and the summer before she passed away she had completed a scuba diving course in Australia. He said life had just taken off for his sister when tragedy struck. After being educated the Bower National School, Athlone Vocational School and Summerhill College, Angela went on to UCG where she achieved an honours degree in physics before doing her H.Dip. Angela had worked as a visiting lecturer in Athlone Regional College (now AIT) before taking up the teaching position in Limerick. She had been teaching senior maths, physics and computers at the school for two years before her untimely death. At the recent opening of the bridge in her honour, John had the opportunity to speak with the climbers Angela was with when she was swept away and also the man who found her body the following day. He this week paid tribute to those who had the bridge erected, making safe the river crossing for all climbers in the future. "Fair play to Con Moriarty and everyone else who did it. It's a very nice gesture to have a bridge named in her honour," he said.