Co. Antrim man takes on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way to raise awareness and funding for ME

Lee Colligan in Carnlough, Northern Ireland, he is making a 2500km journey walking the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route to raise money and awareness for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) in honour of his 29-year-old brother Josh who passed away in August 2023.Lee Colligan in Carnlough, Northern Ireland, he is making a 2500km journey walking the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route to raise money and awareness for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) in honour of his 29-year-old brother Josh who passed away in August 2023.
Lee Colligan in Carnlough, Northern Ireland, he is making a 2500km journey walking the Wild Atlantic Way and the Causeway Coastal Route to raise money and awareness for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) in honour of his 29-year-old brother Josh who passed away in August 2023.
A Co Antrim man is set to complete a marathon walk around Ireland's wildest coastline to raise money and awareness of ME following the death of his brother.

Josh Colligan from Carrickfergus died at the age of 29 last August after falling ill in 2017.

His brother Lee said that Josh was a very active man, passionate about exercise and adventures and had previously been in the Army.

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He had finished 12th in the Belfast marathon just a year before he became ill with ME, which saw him becoming bedbound and reliant on their family for care.

"He was extremely fit, that's what he loved to do. It's a debilitating illness, both physically and mentally. It's very tough and very challenging living when you can't do the one thing you love," he said.

Mr Colligan started his walk in Kinsale, Co Cork in May to fundraise as well as raise awareness of the illness, hiking the Wild Atlantic Way through all weather conditions to Northern Ireland's causeway coast.

He is walking approximately 40km per day of the estimated total 2,500km, and is expected to finish in his home town on Wednesday, having reached Carnlough on Tuesday where he was joined by family and friends.

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He told the PA news agency that fairly little is understood about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which causes extreme tiredness and a range of other symptoms.

The money he raises is to be donated to Action for ME and the Irish ME/CFS Association .

"Josh had always loved adventure and travel, he was very athletic so this walk is something I know he would have loved to do. He had actually booked flight to do the Camino de Santiago , he very much wanted to do a long trek himself," he said.

"So I hadn't heard of many people walking the Wild Atlantic Way, and I wanted a big challenge that he would be proud of but one also that friends and family could easily get involved in. I have had family walk with me, my friends, Josh's friends. It's been a team effort.

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"People have been incredibly kind and supportive along the route, and it really reaffirms your faith in humanity. People from Ireland and Northern Ireland , if they see you're doing good, they want to help and do good also, because I'm giving to others, they're very much giving back to me.

"You get all seasons in the one day on this walk, run, sun, we just try to walk with a smile. It's an absolutely stunning coastline."

Mr Colligan has been wearing T-shirts with his brother's picture and the names of the two charities.

"That gets people curious so I can stop and explain what we're doing, and get the message out," he said.

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"It's mainly about awareness, we have raised a good chunk of money for the charities which is excellent but my main goal was always awareness and I think we've very much started to create a ripple and get the word out, and I know he would be very proud of that.

"So little is known about ME, they think it is linked to a viral infections, it could be glandular fever, it could be a whole host of things, but they don't really know, there is no set diagnosis, there is no effective drug people, there is just not a lot out there for people so it needs a lot more funding and a lot more research.

"It's not until people start talking about something and making a bit of noise that it will get the research it warrants and that people will get the support they deserve."

Mr Colligan said he intends to do the final leg of the walk, along the Co Antrim coastline that he and his brother were so familiar with, alone dedicated to Josh.

More information on Josh's story can be found at https://awalkforme.com/.

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