Round Ireland Barefoot Walker Arrives In Newcastle


Eamonn Keaveney left his hometown in Mayo on the first of May… barefooted!

He has taken on an ambitious challenge, ‘Baring My Soles’, a 2000 kilometre adventure walking around Ireland on his barefoot in aid of a very important charity: Pieta House Suicide and Self-Harm Crisis Centre.

Eamonn, who just turned 24 on Saturday past, is from Claremorris, Co. Mayo, and he could easily be mistaken for one of the many hikers who come to County Down each summer. But he is on a mission to achieve another important goal, to break the Guinness Book of Records for a barefoot walk.

Before he took up the challenge, Eamonn was a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teacher in Dublin. But he had the call and decided to take on the challenge for his charity.

Eamonn Keaveney from Mayo treds barefoot through County Down on his round-Ireland walk for a suicide charity.
Eamonn Keaveney from Mayo treds barefoot through County Down on his round-Ireland walk for a suicide charity.

Speaking to Down News outside Annalong on his way to Newcastle, Eamonn said: “I am not permitted to wear shoes, socks, or even plasters on my feet while undertaking this challenge unless I take an official rest day. In any case, I haven’t even packed any footwear in my bag! I’m also unable to accept lifts from the many kind and confused passers-by!”

Already Eamonn has smashed the 1,000km halfway milestone at the end of day 51 and has raised over 13, 500 euros for Pieta House to date. Yesterday, day 71, he walked from Newry to Kilkeel. Today, he walked to Newcastle. And on Tuesday he will walk on to Ballynahinch, with the next leg heading to Belfast on Wednesday. He will take a rest day in Belfast. His exact route can be subject to change so this is a projected route. He will then continue up north past Belfast, around through towards Donegal, making his way back home to Claremorris in Mayo where he will be well-received by his many local supporters!

Eamonn will break the current record of 925 miles somewhere around Belfast so that will spur him on on his homeward route.

He added: “We are extremely grateful for the amazing generosity and support I have received from strangers along the way. People have heard about me on the radio, newspapers, websites, social media, and through word of mouth. You can follow my progress on my social media sites, (see links below).

“My faith in humanity has been restored restored as people offer their time, company, money, accommodation, and their well-wishes. Some people have driven up and down roads just to find me. Others have walked with me, and one brave soul also took off his shoes too! But it has been great to see the whole of Ireland literally on foot.

“At first, a lot of people didn’t believe I would or could do it. Some people will have to eat their socks when I complete this journey!

Given that suicide and self-harm are issues that are sadly, all-too-common in our communities, I believe this to be an important cause. My life too has been touched by the loss of friends. 

“With that in mind, I would be extremely grateful if everyone could help generate publicity for his campaign whether by sharing his Facebook page/fundraiser link/Twitter/Instagram pages.

Eamonn Keaveney's feet are in great shape ready for the homeward leg of his journey.
Definitely digital: Eamonn Keaveney’s feet are in great shape ready for the homeward leg of his journey.

“This extra exposure will be of great support for me as I walk on to raise money for this necessary cause.”

The only luxuries Eamonn has with his are his mobile and a GPS. “I’m travelling light,” Eamonn said. “My rucksack is about 14 kilos in weight which is enough. I need to keep the weight off my feet. So far my injury include standing on a piece of glass yesterday. Thorns are certainly a problem and do cause me occasional problems. I have had a few sore bits and aching joints, but otherwise I’m keeping together fairly well. I know I can finish this now. It’s been a long journey, but very worthwhile.”

Eamonn has so far been very lucky in receiving hospitality wherever he has walked to, but he carries a small tent just in case he has to camp out.

As I left Eamonn on the Annalong-Newcastle Road, I could see he was in good spirits and had a spring in his step from all the positive support he has received from the public to date. He is completely in awe of all the generous donations online and he is definitely spurred on to smash the world record.

His family keep in contact with him every day on his mobile, but Eamonn finds that people along his route are very friendly and are keen to chat to him.  You can #meetthefeet on the road on Twitter!

IF you want to make a donation or offer any help, you can contact his sister Yvonne on her mobile (00353) 85 1266953.