A hospital consultant aims to climb the highest peak in every county in Ireland in a week in memory of his sister-in-law.
Cork-based consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Richard Horgan, is training for next month’s challenge, five years after the death of his wife’s youngest sister, Orla Gosnell, 38.
The funds he raises for Cork University Maternity Hospital through CUH Charity will be used to create dedicated spaces for patients and staff – and a permanent reminder of the social care worker’s life.
Orla died in December 2018, five months after delivering her fifth child at CUMH.
Richard’s ‘32 County Peaks in a Week’ challenge kicks off on July 16 with a minimum €10,000 target and the daunting task of scaling summits in four-five counties each day.
It begins at Knockboy, the highest point in Cork, concluding seven days later as he descends 918m Galtymore on the Limerick/Tipperary border.
“Failure is not an option,” said the determined Cork city dad-of-three and avid hill walker, who conquered Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro, in 2011.
During the expedition, supported by a colleague, he will sleep for little more than five hours each night at the base of his next peak, climbing a combined altitude of 16,000m, almost twice that of Mount Everest.
He hopes to be joined by Orla’s husband Robert and other family members on the final ascent on July 22.
Richard’s family was plunged into grief when his sister-in-law passed away.
He was based in Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital at the time but was appointed to CUMH in early 2020.
A long-held ambition to mark her life came to fruition earlier this year when - inspired by an idea from his nine-year-old son - he decided to grasp the 32-county peak challenge.
It will be a highly-emotional undertaking as he carries treasured memories of drama and singing enthusiast Orla with him.
“She was so dynamic, it was always about the solution rather than the problem with her,” he recalls.
“She was never one to leave things slide, she would ask about things and was never one to avoid sensitive conversations if something needed to be said – and I admire that.
“She loved kids, was brilliant with them, loved being pregnant but always wanted to be involved and to know everything about her care. This lives on in her five fabulous kids.
“What has always been to the forefront in my work is the patient’s experience, the mother’s experience, even in bad outcomes and to make the experience as positive as we can.
“When I walk into the maternity hospital, there are magnificent glass corridors and there’s an opportunity to install benches or seats, we have three floors to work with and could do it on all floors.
“It is simply somewhere patients, their partners and staff can go and sit, take a moment, have a chat, take a ‘phonecall, have those few minutes.”
The new space will include a symbol specifically remembering Orla and her many journeys in CUMH.
Richard’s fundraiser can be supported until August 6 at: www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/DrRichardHorgan32CountyPeaks