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Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo

Lonely Planet’s 1,000 Ultimate Adventures ranks climbing Croagh Patrick in Mayo as its ultimate

One of our Ireland's most visited pilgrimage sites, the Holy mountain of Croagh Patrick is a popular spiritual ascent that is surrounded by picturesque views of the Mayo countryside. Widely considered Ireland's holiest mountain with a history tradition of pilgrimage dating back to 5,000 years ago and more recently after St. Patrick fasted 40 days at the top of the mountain in 441AD.

On the last Sunday in July, thousands of pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in honour of Saint Patrick who, according to tradition, fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441. Masses are held at the summit, where there is a small chapel. From ancient times pilgrims have climbed the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance, a practice that continues.

Some pilgrims carry out 'rounding rituals', in which they pray while walking sunwise around features on the mountain. In medieval times, pilgrims carried stones as an act of penance, or to represent a prayer intention. The stones were carried to the cairn on top of the mountain, or to the cairn on the saddle of the mountain, which marks the unofficial half-way point at the base of the summit. This practice of carrying stones or rocks on a pilgrimage, to add to a cairn, was thought to bring the pilgrims good luck, and can be seen in many ancient pilgrimage paths, the most notable being the Camino de Santiago.

Some claim that the pilgrimage pre-dates Christianity and was originally a ritual associated with the festival of Lughnasadh. It had been claimed that the volume of visitors has led to erosion and has made the mountain more dangerous for climbers

On 'Reek Sunday', the last Sunday in July, over 25,000 pilgrims visit the Reek. At the top, there is a modern chapel where mass is celebrated and confessions are heard. Individuals and groups come from all over the world and include pilgrims, hill climbers, historians, archaeologists and nature lovers.

Croagh Patrick rises to a height of 2510 feet/765m above sea level.  Generally it is best to climb in Spring, Summer and Autumn (March-October). Occasional showers blow in over the bay so raingear is advisable. Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend.  It is advisable to take sturdy footwear, rainwear and some drinking water.

Climbing Croagh Patrick whilst touring Mayo, stay with us at the 4 star McWilliam Park Hotel, enjoy complimentary use of our leisure facilities.