Armagh man on `The Long Walk Home' invites public to share a leg as he arrives in Ireland
A CO Armagh man who embarked on a gruelling walk across Europe with a friend to raise awareness and funds for dementia research has arrived in Ireland for the final leg of the 'long walk home'.
Eamonn Donnelly and Sepp Tieber-Kessler have so far clocked up more than 2,200km in their epic trip across the continent.
And over the next 10 days the friends hope to complete their 2,500km walk and have invited members of the public to `Share a Leg' of their journey back to Keady.
Over the last 11 weeks, the pair have already climbed, trekked and camped their way across Austria, Germany, France, England and Wales completely unaided.
At the weekend, they arrived off the ferry from Fishguard in Rosslare. Over the next 10 days, they will walk up the east coast of Ireland, via the Wicklow mountains, Dublin, Ardee, Carrickmacross and Castleblaney, before crossing into the north for the final few miles.
The expedition `The Long Walk Home' is inspired by Mr Donnelly's mother Margaret who died in April 2014 aged 71 after suffering from a rare and extremely aggressive form of dementia.
The friends want to increase awareness about the issue and a the same time raise funds for research and the the Alzheimer Societies of Ireland and the UK.
Mr Donnelly has lived in Austria with his wife and three children since 1990 where he teaches English as a foreign language.
He and Mr Tieber-Kessler formed the traditional music band `Boxty' there.
"The idea for `The Long Walk Home', from my adopted home in Austria to my native home in Keady, Co Armagh, was the subject of many late-night pub talks, but that's where it ended," the Irishman said.
"When my mother Margaret passed away a few years ago, after suffering from a rare and extremely aggressive form of dementia, the idea took on a whole new meaning and purpose.
"As we have walked, we have generated a lot of attention and debate about dementia from those we have met directly on the walk as well as through media exposure and engagement online through our blog and social media channels.
"We have also been raising money and hope to be able to make significant contribution to dementia research projects following completion of the challenge," he said.
" Along the way, we also received a number of offers from people interested in joining our walk, which gave us the idea of inviting anyone who may wish to `Share a Leg' - whether a few miles or a full day of the final journey northwards.
"Having been in each other's company so closely for the last 11 weeks, we could well do with some new conversation and hopefully anyone who joins us may also like to do their own fundraising in support of the cause."
For more information: https://thelongwalkhome.wixsite.com/thelongwalkhome or @DementiaWalk and #LongWalkHome