|Croagh Patrick or The Reek, Co. Mayo|
The tradition of holy mountains in Ireland remains strong today. On certain Christian feast days or saints days, hundreds or thousands of pilgrims can come together to climb these holy mountains. Nowhere upland pilgramage in Ireland is more famous than on Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo where people come from the world over to make an attempt at the summit. Some even tackle the mountains steep and rocky slopes barefoot.
St. Patrick is said to have fasted on the top of this mountain for forty days and forty nights in the 5th Century, built a church and banished the snakes from Ireland.
|Oratory on top of Croagh Patrick|
Croagh Patrick is also known as The Reek. It is easily Ireland’s most climbed mountain with large crowds climbing to the summit all year round.. The main day however is the Last Sunday in July known as Reek Sunday when pilgrims climb in their thousands to the oratory on top (built in 1905) where a mass is said. The tradition of climbing the mountain on the last Sunday in July has all the hallmarks of the Lughnasa festival which can be traced back to the Iron Age. Like holy wells the new young religion established itself in the 5th and later centuries by making use of earlier features and traditions. In this way the remnants of prehistoric activities and traditions are still found in Ireland today.
|Clew Bay, Co. Mayo
On a clear day, Croagh Patrick offers one of the best views of Clew Bay with its numerous islands, many one of which are privately owned (one was owned by John Lennon). Climbing the mountain is well worth the effort although I do not reccomend climbing it barefoot due to the steepness of the slope and the many loose and jagged rocks which form the path towards the summit.
|Path to the summit, this is why barefoot is not a good idea
For a really interesting blog on medieval pilgrimage be sure and follow http://pilgrimagemedievalireland.com/