There will be people from Kilkenny celebrating Christmas in the furthest corners of the world this year. Senan Foley will be on top of one of the highest peaks in the Antartic, while Stuart Cullen will be in the middle of the China sea. Gillian Tyrell and her family will spend the festive period in Perth.
Mr Foley who is originally from Cork but who works with Glanbia in Kilkenny, is taking part in an expedition to climb the highest mountain on the Antartic Continent. Mr Foley has already successfully summitted the highest peak in Russia, Mount Elbus, Africa, Kilimanjaro and the highest peak in Europe, Mount Blanc. Despite these impressive feats of mountaineering, Mount Venson presents a unique challenge. The moutain is located about 1,200 kilometres from the South Pole and will be subject to freezing cold temperatures. If the weather holds the expedition are hoping to reach the top of Mount Venson in time to celebrate Christmas.
If Mr Foley is successful in tackling Mount Venson he will join an elite few to have scaled that mountaim More climbers have made it to the top of Everest than to the summit of Venson. The most recent report from Antartica came Anne-Marie Kelly, Mr Foley’s girlfriend. She received a satellite phone call from him recently. Mr Foley and his team had arrived in Union Glacier on Saturday last week, from where they took a smaller propeller plane to the base of Mount Venson on where they set up base camp.
Another Kilkenny man who will be spending Christmas in an unusual location is Stuart Cullen. Mr Cullen will be spending his Christmas day steaming across the South China Sea. Mr Cullen is a Navigation Officer in the Merchant Navy and for the third year in a row he’ll be spending Christmas day at sea. “Due to my vessels trade pattern I will be somewhere in the South China Sea on Christmas Day! I spent last Christmas day discharging Fuel Oil in New York just so the New Yorkers could keep their Christmas lights on! And the year before that I spent Christmas day in Gibraltar because the weather was too bad to join my ship in Gibraltar Bay!,” said Mr Cullen.
Gillian Tyrell and her family will be spending their first Christmas away from Kilkenny. The Tyrell family moved to Perth earlier this year. Gillian took a job with Aquenta Consulting along with her huband Paddy. Gillian and Paddy will be celebrating their first summer Christmas in the SOuthern Hemisphere along with their two young children.