Several hundred people came to Shannon Airport this afternoon to welcome home 38-year-old mountaineer John Burke who reached the summit of Mount Everest last Tuesday morning, the first Clare man to ever do so.

He said he had fulfilled a lifelong dream of reaching the top of the highest mountain in the world but he was relieved and happy to be back home in Co Clare.

He had been preparing for the climb for a number of years and had successfully climbed a number of peaks in Ireland and in Europe.

Speaking of his achievement he said while it had been a dream of his for over ten years, he was very conscious of the risks involved and his achievement was not without its terrors.

Mr Burke said he witnessed the bodies of those who had tragically lost their lives on the mountain before him and said he could see the fear of death in their faces.

Two other climbers lost their lives yesterday trying to reach the summit, bringing to at least five the number of those who have died or been lost on the mountain in the past month.

Today Mr Burke's wife, actress and Dancing with the Stars finalist, Aoibhín Garrihy and members of his family met him as he disembarked from the aircraft holding the Clare flag aloft, the same flag he had waved from the summit of Everest. 

Hundreds more of his friends and community greeted him in the arrivals hall cheering his success and welcoming him home.

A homecoming celebration is planned for later tonight at the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point, which is owned by the Burke family, and another homecoming party is planned by his wider community on Friday night