A Clonakilty woman who broke her back less than nine months ago plans to climb the highest peak in each county before May 31st.
Clodagh Helen fell off a horse on this particular date last year, and wants to complete the challenge in aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland.
Clodagh, who now lives and works in Clare where she looks after over 33 birds of prey at the Aillwee Caves and Birds of Prey centre, knows that she is very lucky not to have been left paralysed after her accident.
‘It was a simple fall really,’ said Clodagh. ‘I went to jump a fence, the horse had a different idea. It went one way and I went the other. When it happened and I hit the ground I didn’t think anything of it. I was a bit stiff, my ankle hurt and I just stood up afterwards. I was more concerned about my ankle, so I called a friend who came and took me home.’
But when Clodagh got home she noticed that her back was painful and that she couldn’t sit or stand for any length of time. Her ankle had also swollen, so she decided to go to A&E.
‘I spent the next eight hours there, lying on the floor or walking around, all the while trying to find relief for my back pain. There was nobody at the x-ray department as it was late, so I had to wait until the next morning.’
When the doctors examined Clodagh’s x-rays she was immediately strapped to a spinal board and they confirmed that her back was, in fact, broken.
‘The good news was that there was no spinal damage. They strapped me to a brace and for the next 12 weeks I could barely move,’ Clodagh said.
‘When the brace finally came off, I was very weak and it was then that I decided to take on the challenge so that I could support Spinal Injuries Ireland and also to get myself fit and strong once more.’
Clodagh has already completed 15 of the 26 highest peaks and recently climbed Knockboy, Cork’s highest mountain, which is near Glengarriff on the Beara peninsula, with the support of family members and friends.
‘My goal is to finish the challenge within one year of breaking my back,’ Clodagh said.
‘The going was tough at the beginning, but I’m getting stronger all the time. My plan is to stand on the summit of Carrauntoohil before May 31st this year.’
• You can support Clodagh’s challenge by visiting her Facebook page.