Armagh man Eamonn Donnelly and his good friend Sepp Tieber from Graz in Austria this week reached the half-way point on their epic 2,500km trek across Europe to Ireland to raise awareness and funds for Dementia Research.
They reached the milestone near the town of Antheny in Northern France as they made their way towards Calais, and on to arrive in Dover by 10 August, Ireland by the end of the month and Eamonn’s home town of Keady in Armagh by September.
The expedition entitled The Long Walk Home is inspired by the life of Eamonn’s mother Margaret who died in April 2014 at the age of 71, having suffered from a rare and extremely aggressive form of dementia.
It is supported by The Alzheimer’s Society in NI and UK as well as The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
While Armagh is still the place Eamonn (50) calls home, he has lived in Austria since 1990 along with his wife and three children where he teaches English as a foreign language, and, with Sepp, plays in an Irish band called Boxty which plays all over Austria.
“The idea for The Long Walk Home, from my adopted home near Graz in Austria to my native home in Keady, Co. Armagh, featured in many a late-night pub talk, but that’s where it started and ended.
“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.
“It became apparent to me and my family that much more needed to be done to understand and tackle it.
“The Long Walk Home is a very small step along the way to doing just that, hoping to raise awareness and much needed funds for dementia research, while also honouring the life of an amazing wife, mother, grandmother and friend.”
The two men are doing the trek the old-fashioned way, climbing, trekking and camping all the way across Austria, Germany, France, England, Wales and Ireland.
Tough yet amazing
This week they were six weeks into the trek having walked over 1,250kms “It’s been tough and yet it’s been amazing.
“We have been greatly encouraged by the kindness of human nature, both in person and through the online donations and support we have received for the trek.
The generosity and curiosity from total strangers about our adventure has been truly inspiring and has on more than one occasion been the extra motivation to wake up and do another 35-40km the next day.