THE CIRCULAR

Through Twitter, We’ve All Been Able to Climb with Charlie

Photo by Miguel Bruna for Unsplash

Although Charlie Bird may be facing a devastating terminal illness, the people of Ireland are still able to follow his amazing story of battle and strength through the power of social media.

Charlie Bird is regarded as one of the most highly successful journalists and broadcasters in the history of Irish media. His career has seen him grace our screens with his news reports on RTE and joined him in traveling across the Arctic and the Amazon. Now, the people of Ireland are watching as he tells the public what is quite possibly, the biggest story of his career; his battle with motor neuron disease.

Motor neuron disease is an incurable illness that severely affects the voluntary muscles of the human body. As time passes, abilities such as moving around, swallowing, and eating become more difficult. The disease ultimately leads to death.

Charlie Bird’s interview with Ryan Tubridy about his illness on the Late Late Show, December 2021

Diagnosed with the disease in October of last year, Bird has used his Twitter account to keep everybody updated about the state of his condition. In many of his uploads, he’s seen with his beloved dog Tiger on his lap, informing the viewing public about his health challenges and the obstacles he faces with the disease. The disease has already affected Charlie Bird to the point where he must communicate through a voice synthesizer. After years of watching him hold a microphone in front of the RTE camera, it’s hard to see how much this illness has affected him.

But even so, through the many videos that are posted on Twitter, we can see that he has not let this illness stop him, from telling stories to the Irish public.

Over the last several months, Charlie Bird announced his intentions to climb Crough Patrick on 2nd April in aid of Pieta House and the Irish Motor Neurones Disease Association. On his website Climb With Charlie, he wrote that he hoped that people would show support for his fundraising event. As seen on Twitter, thousands of people across the country have shown their support, from sending five euro notes in the post, to organizing school activities to help raise money, to Irish public figures posting messages of support.  

At the time of writing, more than €2.2 million has been raised for both charities.

On 2nd April, Charlie Bird and more than a thousand others successfully completed their climb. With Tiger sporting a bright green shirt on his lap, Charlie Bird posted a video of thanks to the public in support of his climb. Because of the ongoing health restrictions, he asked that those who could physically be there on 2nd April could climb with him in spirit.

In large part, thanks to Twitter, we’ve all been able to do that.

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