Pop hunk Ronan Keating has begun a marathon charity walk around Ireland.

The singer, who set off on his journey yesterday (17MAY03) from the Giant's Causeway on the County Antrim coast, is aiming to complete the 675-kilometre (420-mile) journey and arrive in Kinsale in County Cork by 8 June (03).

Before setting off he signed autographs for a crowd of fans who had turned up to wish him well.

During his walk he will be accompanied by a team of volunteers who will collect money on behalf of the MARIE KEATING FOUNDATION AND ACTION CANCER.

Father-of-two Ronan and his family set up the foundation five years ago in memory of his mother, Marie, who died from breast cancer.

Before he set off on the epic walk he said, "We've had a great response so far, so I'm really hoping we get the support we need as we pass through each town."

To prepare for the 32-kilometre (20-mile) a day hike, Ronan has trained regularly for a month and says he is ready for the challenge.

He added, "I feel fitter than ever, but it's a very tough challenge and I hope I make it."

18/05/2003 21:04