Northern Ireland news

Mayo man's barefoot walk around Ireland

A MAYO man trekking the length and breadth of Ireland has broken the world record for the longest barefoot walk as he passed through the idyllic Co Down countryside.

Eamonn Keaveney passed the 1,448 km mark while walking through Ballynahinch.

The schoolteacher set off from his home in Claremorris on May 1 to walk 2,021 kilometres around Ireland, aiming to break a world record.

The 24-year-old's challenge has taken him through Galway, into Cork, across the Wicklow Mountains before walking into Northern Ireland.

Arriving north of the border this week, Mr Keaveney visited Newry, Kilkeel and Newcastle before stopping in Belfast for a break.

As well as trying to beat the barefoot world record held by Michael Essign from Germany, who walked 1,448km in 2013, Mr Keaveney is raising money for Pieta House, the Dublin-based centre for the prevention of self-harm and suicide.

"A friend of mine took their own life about two-and-a-half years ago and after that it was something that really personally affected me for a long while," he said.

"After you are eternally asking yourself the question, where was that person, so that brought it up as a personal issue that affected me and made me want to raise money for a charity that helps people with that."

He said the idea for the journey came to him one day as he flicked through the Guinness World Records book.

"I saw the record and thought, 'I could do that'," he said.

Eamonn Keaveney at Belfast City Hall during his record-breaking barefoot walk around Ireland. Picture By Hugh Russell

Mr Keaveney has been keeping records of his challenge to secure the record.

"I met the world record on Wednesday in Ballynahinch," he said.

"I've been gathering all the evidence in videos, photos, GPS files and log books, then I'll send it off and it could take Guinness up to 12 weeks to verify."

He said while he had not suffered major injury during the walk, his feet have taken a battering.

"It's really, really tough on my feet, especially when I first started out," he said.

"But I've been fortunate to remain injury-free throughout."

Mr Keaveney has raised more than €13,000 for Pieta House, but the journey isn't over yet as he continues the final leg of the 2021km journey.

He will soon take a scenic route along the north coast, visiting towns such as Carrickfergus and Ballycastle before walking through Derry and Donegal as he begins his journey back home.

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