Harpist hails ‘unforgettable experience’ on Kilimanjaro during world record bid

Siobhan Brady from Ireland hiked more than 19,000ft to perform a selection of songs at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

A harpist, who reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and completed her Guinness World Record (GWR) attempt for the highest altitude harp performance, said it was an “unforgettable experience”.

Siobhan Brady hiked more than 19,000ft to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in an attempt to beat her previous feat in 2018 where she performed for 18 minutes at Singla Pass, India, at more than 16,000ft.

The 24-year-old from Limerick, Ireland, played her concert called the Highest Harp Concert for 20 minutes performing a selection of songs including the traditional Tanzanian jig which translates as Thank You Tanzania from Swahili.

Ms Brady also performed her rendition of Ed Sheeran’s Little Bird, which has a special connection to Caroline Heffernan, a patient advocate at Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Ireland, the charity which funds raised from the hike – more than 42,000 euros so far – will go to.

Harpist Siobhan Brady performing on Mount Kilimanjaro
Siobhan Brady performed for 20 minutes at more than 19,000ft (The Highest Harp Concert Team)

Little Bird pays homage to Triona Priestley, a woman who died from CF in 2014, whose mother Ms Heffernan met.

The harpist was accompanied by Ms Heffernan, who has CF, and read the poem The Prophets Are Weeping by Irish President Michael D Higgins while on Mount Kilimanjaro.

At the Barufa Camp where Ms Brady was stationed after the performance she spoke of her “unforgettable experience” and was happy to see her dream “become a reality”.

“We are elated beyond words and immensely proud of the incredible team and support that made this ambition dreamed up a few years ago, somehow become a reality,” she said.

“The final hours before reaching the summit were a real test of resilience, however, we somehow made it through and found the perfect moment for the concert with only the clouds below us.

“It’s been an unforgettable experience, rewarding and challenging in equal measure, and I know I speak for all of the team when I thank everyone who sent in messages from far and wide.

“The constant encouragement and support made some of the steps forward all that bit easier.”

Philip Watt, chief executive of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, congratulated Ms Brady and her team and said he was “proud” of their “successful ascent” up the highest mountain in Africa.

“We know this has been a supreme effort for all the team and with many months of planning, including for our colleague Caroline Heffernan who has cystic fibrosis,” he said.

“We are very respectful of the fact that Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Africa but is also a sacred mountain for many in Tanzania and we pay tribute to the many who assisted the team in reaching the summit and pray for their safe return.

Harpist Siobhan Brady and her father, Sean, on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
Ms Brady and her father Sean, look out over the clouds from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (The Highest Harp Concert Team/PA)

“Many congratulations to Siobhan Brady and her team for this fundraising initiative and for topping her own world record in playing the ‘highest harp’ at such a high altitude and many thanks to the leader of the climb, Pat Falvey, the renowned Irish climber.”

He also wished Ms Brady a “safe descent” and is “looking forward to welcoming the team back to Dublin” adding that the funds raised during this challenge will support the key work of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

Ms Brady and her team of 19 underwent two years of training on Irish peaks and at Mount Teide in Tenerife to prepare for her GWR attempt.

They were joined by Irish mountaineer Pat Falvey, who helped the team navigate their way up the summit along with an African-based team of around 60 people.

Ms Brady was presented with an Irish flag from the Irish ambassador for Tanzania, Mary O’Neill, to take to the summit and she wished her well before her ascent up the mountain.

Harpist Siobhan Brady and her team in Tanzania
Ms Brady was joined by a team of 19 who helped her ascent up the Tanzanian mountain (The Highest Harp Concert Team/PA)

Pascale Harvie, president and general manager of JustGiving said she is “immensely proud” of Ms Brady for completing her “incredible feat.

“We at JustGiving are immensely proud of Siobhan, Caroline and the Highest Harps team on the completion of their monumental fundraising challenge,” she said.

“It is truly incredible. We’ve followed their journey every step of the way and have been in complete awe of the commitment and strength they’ve shown throughout.

“Congratulations to the whole team on conquering this incredible feat and raising a fantastic amount of money for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.”

The fundraising link can be accessed here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Highest-Harp

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.