Joss Lynam - some of his life as I saw it.
Recently I put together some words regarding Joss for the MI.
In limited space let me mention some of what Joss did for hillwalking that I know of. Established hillwalkers will appreciate the list of Ireland’s 600m summits in common use was originally developed by Joss with a contact of his: Rev CRP Vandeleur, long before any other Irish originated list. An ancestor list was incorporated into one of the books he re-published in the early 1970’s: Claude Wall’s “Mountaineering in Ireland”, at the time the only book setting out to describe all the hill areas of Ireland. This was one of the main inspirations for MountainViews.ie, promoting the same walking themes of discovery and classification. (At Joss’s express request, the “Vandeleur-Lynam” list that MountainViews publishes will continue with the same specification as to prominence: 15m).
Joss was always fascinated by maps. He created the first Irish five colour orienteering map in the 1970’s and trained map-makers. He created his own maps such as his collaboration with Tim Robinson on an improved Connemara map. He consulted with OSi to improve their maps. As lately as 2009 he was again talking to them in the WAI consultation about the reprint of the 1:50,000 series, helping mitigate risks in some early proposals.
Joss understood the value of infrastructure for sports bodies. To me his greatest achievements lay in his seemingly easy excellence in the techniques of voluntary and non-profit organisation: confidence, self-motivation, consultation, leverage, chairmanship, negotiation, infrastructural detail, alliances – his life was a master-class for organisers and his legacy for walkers a series of enduring institutions in training, in trail management, publication and, above all, inspiration.
Personally I had the privilege of experiencing many of the great thrills of Irish hillwalking with Joss, starting in the early 70’s. From the Reeks Walk, over Mweelrea, Brandon, many of the Bens, Wicklow, the Lug Walk he taught me his style of skilled, hard walking. Perhaps most memorable was the second Maamturks walk (1976) a challenge we started at nearly the same time but did solo in atrocious weather navigating with the small, inaccurate ½ inch map. I treasure the one hole-in-the-mist glimpse I had of him striding along near Letterbreckaun. Joss was one of four to finish that gruelling day. The last time he did the ‘Turks was in 1993 when he finished in under 12 hours, exceptional for someone near 70.
Simon Stewart, Publisher MountainViews.ie