Life

Outdoors: End in sight as Long Walk Home for Alzheimer's approaches Armagh

Eamonn Donnelly, right, and his friend Sepp Tieber-Kessler arrive in Rosslare en route to Keady, on their 2,500km Austria-to-Armagh trek in aid of dementia research

ARMAGH man Eamonn Donnelly and his friend Sepp Tieber-Kessler from Graz in Austria have arrived in Ireland after clocking up over 2,200km of their 2,500km expedition across Europe to Northern Ireland to raise funds for dementia research.

As they head northwards on the final stage of their trans-European trek to Keady, they have invited members of the public to ‘Share a Leg' of their journey.

Over the past 11 weeks, the pair climbed, trekked and camped their way across Austria, Germany, France, England and Wales unaided. This week they arrived off the ferry from Fishguard in Rosslare.

The homeward stretch sees them spending 10 days walking up the east coast of Ireland, including through the Wicklow mountains, via Dublin and then northwards through Ardee, Carrickmacross and Castleblaney, before eventually crossing into Northern Ireland for the final few miles to Eamonn's home in Keady.

The expedition entitled The Long Walk Home is inspired by the life of Eamonn's mother Margaret who died in April 2014 at age 71, having suffered from a rare and extremely aggressive form of dementia. It is aiming to increase awareness about the importance of this issue, given the exponential growth of the disease in recent years, while also raising funds for dementia research across the island of Ireland, in Britain and in Austria.

The duo have enlisted the support of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and The Alzheimer's Society in the UK, which will both benefit from funds raised.

While Armagh is still the place Eamonn calls home, he has lived in Austria since 1990 along with his wife and three children. Here he teaches English as a foreign language, but also with Sepp formed the Irish band Boxty which plays all over Austria and further afield.

The pair hope to reach their final destination around September 8.

:: For more details, including on how to donate, see thelongwalkhome.wixsite.com/thelongwalkhome. You can also follow them on Twitter on @DementiaWalk or search for the hashtag #LongWalkHome

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