Croagh Patrick, The Holy Mountain, is one of the highest peaks in the West of Ireland and a pilgrimage site honouring Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, who fasted on the summit of the mountain for forty days and forty nights in 441 AD. There is, however, evidence that it has been a place of pilgrimage since the Stone Age.
It is 5 miles from the town of Westport in County Mayo, which is served by bus and train from Dublin and Galway. It has a visitor centre and other cultural and historical attractions. The visitor centre provides information services, guided tours of the mountain, packed lunches, secure lockers, craft shop, restaurant and shower facilities and can advise on local accommodation.
The summit is of 762m above sea level and best climbed between April and September. There are spectacular views of the countryside from all stages of the ascent of the mountain and over Clew Bay from the summit. It is advisable to take sturdy footwear, rainwear and drinking water. Climbing sticks are for sale at the Visitor Centre.
Each year, The Reek, as it is colloquially known, attracts about 1 million pilgrims. 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.
The other traditional Pilgrimage days are the last Friday of July which is known locally as ‘Garland Friday’, and August 15th which is the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven.