Harper Siobhán Brady Performs on Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro July 2023

Limerick harper Siobhan Brady performs the ‘Highest Harp Concert’ on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in a bid to break the Guinness World Record. In the early hours of this morning (Tuesday 25th July), the welcome news began to filter out their team had successfully reached the 5,895-metre summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. 

Siobhan Brady on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – The Highest Harp Concert

Siobhan’s ambitious challenge is part of a Guinness World Record attempt to host a unique concert on Africa’s highest peak titled, the ‘Highest Harp Concert’. The current Guinness World Record for the highest altitude harp performance was set by her in 2018 in the at Himalayan region of India, at more than 16,000ft.

The concert of 20 minutes consisted of an array of traditional and more recent compositions from Ireland and also included a Tanzanian jig which means ‘Thank You Tanzania’ in Swahili, as well as a rendition of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Little Bird’. The song has a special place in the hearts of the Cystic Fibrosis community and the poem, ‘The Prophets Are Weeping’, by Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, was read by well-known CF Advocate, Caroline Heffernan.

Departing Ireland last week, the core team of 19 flew to Tanzania following over two years of meticulous planning and numerous training events on Irish peaks and more recently, Mount Teide located on the Canary Island of Tenerife.

Leading them up Mount Kilimanjaro is renowned Irish mountaineer and adventurer, Pat Falvey, who oversaw the complex and expansive logistics involved which included an African-based team made up of around 60 people.

Before departing to Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, the team were given a send-off from Irish Ambassador for Tanzania, Mary O’Neill, who presented Siobhan with an Irish flag to take to the summit. At Machame Gate, an official reception was also hosted by Dr. Hassan Abbasi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, who had made the journey to personally see the team off on their adventure.

Following a quick descent to the lower Barufa Camp afterwards, Siobhán shared a quick message:

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

One of the first to offer their congratulations to the entire team, was CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Philip Watt, who along with his colleagues and many members of the Cystic Fibrosis community in Ireland and further a field, have been closely following their progress.

 “We are proud that the Highest Harp Challenge team has had a successful ascent and reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, 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. 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’.

 “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’ 

“We do not underestimate how difficult this challenge is and we wish all the team a safe descent and we are looking forward to welcoming them back to Dublin. With much respect and gratitude to the Highest Harp Concert Challenge for organising this initiative. Funding from this challenge will support the key work of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland”.

The team is currently descending to the Mweka Gate, with most members expected back on Irish shores over the next week. Siobhan is performing at a special reception at the residence of the Irish Ambassador to Tanzania in Dar es Salaam before making the return journey.

The Highest Harp Concert has also been supported by the online fundraising platform, Just Giving:  www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Highest-Harp