Croagh Patrick (Irish: Cruach Phádraig), nicknamed the Reek, is a 764 metres (2,507 ft) tall mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. It is 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. It is the third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin. On “Reek Sunday”, the last Sunday in July every year, over 15,000 pilgrims climb it. It forms the southern part of a U-shaped valley created by a glacier flowing into Clew Bay in the last Ice Age. Croagh Patrick is part of a longer east-west ridge; the westernmost peak is called Ben Gorm.
Croagh Patrick comes from the Irish Cruach Phádraig meaning “(Saint) Patrick’s stack”. It is known locally as “the Reek”, a Hiberno-English word for a “rick” or “stack”. In pagan times it was known as Cruachán Aigle, being mentioned by that name in sources such as Cath Maige Tuired, Buile Shuibhne, The Metrical Dindshenchas and the Annals of Ulster entry for the year 1113. Cruachán is simply a diminutive of cruach “stack”, but it is not certain what Aigle means. It is either from the Latin loan aquila “eagle” (more usually aicile or acaile) or a person’s name. In addition to its literal meaning, cruach in the pagan name may also have some connection with Crom Cruach.
Croagh Patrick has been a site of pilgrimage, especially at the summer solstice, since before the arrival of Celtic Christianity. Saint Patrick reputedly fasted on the summit of Croagh Patrick for forty days in the fifth century and built a church there. Popular legend says that at the end of Patrick’s 40-day fast, he threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain, knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.
A Civil Defence survey conducted on 30 July 2006 indicated that there were approximately 15,000 pilgrims in 2006, fewer than in previous years, but heavy rain early that morning had been a deterrent. Two-thirds of the pilgrims in 2006 were male. They included participants from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, India, Hungary and Canada. There were 3,500 first-time climbers. 5 June 2010 marked the first of 365 consecutive ascents by Croaghpatrick365 founder Matt Loughrey.
On “Reek Sunday” (the last Sunday in July) emergency medical and rescue cover for pilgrims is provided by the Civil Defence, Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, and Mayo Mountain Rescue Team assisted by 12 other voluntary Mountain Rescue teams that are represented by the group Mountain Rescue Ireland (I.M.R.A), the Irish Air Corps providing helicopter support for casualty evacuations to hospital or to the emergency services in two locations at the base of the mountain.
While barefoot trekking is now discouraged, many Reek Sunday participants climb Croagh Patrick barefoot (and, among men, sometimes shirtless). Hypothermia is a concern for many climbers, especially if the weather is bad. As a result, the trip can be dangerous at times for many of the climbers and, while deaths are infrequent, there have been recorded incidents where people have been badly injured during the climb because of the steep scree slope to the summit and the poor footing.
A seam of gold was discovered in the mountain in the 1980s: overall grades of 14 grams (0.45 oz) of gold per tonne in at least 12 quartz veins, which could produce 700,000 (770,000 short tons) of ore — potentially over 300,000 troy oz of gold (worth over €300m). Mayo County Council elected not to allow mining, deciding that the gold was “fine where it was”
|St.Patricks Oratory at the summit.|
|St.Patricks bed at the summit|