A large crowd gathered at Belvedere House on Friday,May 15th for the unveiling of wall plaques in the Reception Area highlighting the major mountaineering feats of two great Mullingar men; Anthony Adams-Reilly of Belmont ,Ballinea and Charles Howard-Bury of Belvedere. The plaques were unveiled by Dr Dawson Stelfox,Leader of the first Irish Expedition to Everest in 1993,Kevin Higgins of the Mountaineering Council of Ireland and Marian Keaney,former Westmeath County Librarian and expert on the life of Charles Howard-Bury.

Dawson Stelfox was the first Irishman to reach the summit of Everest,on May 27th 1993. This was the first successful British ascent of the mountain from the north side. The route taken by Dr Stelfox and his team was the same as that taken by Colonel Howard-Bury in 1921 when he led the first reconnaisance of the mountain for the Royal Geographical Society. Dr Stelfox spoke about the remarkable achievements of Howard-Bury and his colleagues which included,not just the discovery of the North Col and north-east ridge route to the summit,but also an original survey of 12,000 square miles and a detailed photographic survey of 600 square miles in the Everest region plus the revision of 4,000 sq miles of existing mapping ,as well as the discovery of new species of plants and flowers.

Dr Stelfox read an extract from Howard-Bury’s Diaries describing sunrise over Everest and then showed a photo of sunrise on Everest taken during the 1993 Expedition. He praised Howard-Bury for his open minded attitude towards the cultures of the peolple of Tibet and the other lands through which he travelled and noted that the photos taken by Howard-Bury provide an invaluable record of the now almost lost civilisation of Tibet.

Kevin Higgins from the Mountaineering Council of Ireland who grew up in Mullingar and will be best remembered by many for his role as Captain of the victorious Westmeath Minor Football Team in the 1963 All Ireland Championship,paid tribute to the climber and map maker,Anthony Adams Reilly. Adams Reilly was born in Ballinea in 1836 and grew up at Belmont House before going to school and university in England. He climbed extensively in the Alps in the 1860s,at a time when the region was divided between a number of countries and had still to be properly mapped. He climbed Mt Blanc twice in one year and climbed the mountain five more times in the next 5 years.

In 1863 he began a survey for Mt Blanc which was published by the Alpine Club in 1865. He also mapped the Mt Rosa district of Italy. His was the first correct map of the Mt Blanc chain. He climbed with all the great pioneering mountaineers of the age. His maps remained in use in France well into the 20th century and a number of features on Mt Blanc and in the area of the Matterhorn are named in his honour-including Col Superior Adams Reilly and Aiguille Adams Reilly.
He returned to live at Belmont in 1868 before moving to Wicklow and then Tipperary where he is buried at Collbawn,Kilbarren. He died in 1885 at the age of only 55. Kevin Higgins highlighted Adams Reilly’s importance as one of the key figures in the exploration and mapping of the Alps.

Marian Keaney spoke about the achievements of Charles Howard-Bury before and after the Everest expedition.She mentioned his illustrious ancestors amongst the English Tudor aristocracy,the Dukes of Norfolk and the Dukes of Suffolk. She also talked about the large amounts of source material now available on Howard-Bury in libraries and online,and the growing interest in his life.

In 2013 a group of young British and Mongolian explorers re-enacted the 1913 journey undertaken by Howard-Bury across Russia,Siberia and Central Asia to the Tian-Shan mountain range in China. (It was on this journey that Howard-Bury bought the bear,Agu, who lived at Belvedere for many years.).The 2013 expedition was entitled “One Steppe at a time”. Marian explained that googling “Charles Howard-Bury” online now brings up a vast range of material.
The Event also was shown a video from Nepal made by the Longford mountaineer,Paul Devanney. He has climbed mountains on 6 continents and was on his way to scale Everest when the earthquake stuck Nepal. He is now helping with relief efforts in the devastated country.

The wall plaques commemmorating Adams Reilly and Howard-Bury and detailing the maps they created of the Alps and Hi malayan regions were then unveiled by Dawson Stelfox,Kevin Higgins,Marian Keaney and Michael Duffy (member of the Mountaineering Council of Ireland and father of 32 marathon/Deca Ironman runner,Gerry Duffy.)
It is hoped that ,in time there may be a Howard-Bury museum of some kind at Belvedere. Mr Christy Maye,owner of the Greville Arms Hotel,brought out some of the Howard-Bury material which he has on display in the Greville Arms,including the stuffed head of Agu,the bear,to be shown at the launch.

(1) Mountaineering enthusiast Kevin Higgins, Mullingar and Kilkenny, giving an illustrated talk in Belvedere last Friday evening.

(2) From left are Jacinta O’Neill, Becka Duffy and Lucy Finnerty attending the function in Belvedere last Friday, 15 May.

(3) Left and right are Tim Lavery, CEO of the World Explorers Bureau, and Christy Maye, Mullingar at the function in Belvedere last Friday night.

(4) Dawson Stelfox, the first Irish man to climb Mount Everest, giving an illustrated talk on his own 1993 Expedition to scale Everest and on the legendary Mullingar mountaineers, Charles Howard-Bury (Belvedere) and Anthony Adams Reilly, to those attending the function and unveiling ceremony in Belvedere last Friday night, 15 May.

(5) Pictured after the unveiling of the wall panels display in the covered courtyard at Belvedere House, Gardens and Park last Friday night, 15 May, are, from left, Michael Duffy, Mullingar, the principal organiser of the event; author and historian Marian Keaney, Mullingar; Dawson Stelfox, Belfast, the first Irish man to climb Mount Everest; Peter O’Connell, Everest climber, and mountaineering enthusiast Kevin Higgins, Kilkenny and formerly from Mullingar.

(6) Among those in Belvedere on Friday evening were, left and right, Jonathan Shackleton, a great-grandson of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton,

(7) Mullingar author and historian Marian Keaney giving her talk on Charles Howard-Bury and Belvedere at the function last Friday night.

(8) Pictured at the talks in Belvedere last Friday are, from left, Dawson Stelfox, Michael Duffy and Peter O’Connell.

(9) A section of the attendance in Belvedere on Friday night last

-Ruth Illingworth
Thanks to James Wims (MCIJ) for supplying Photographs of this great night .

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