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Croagh Patrick

30 November, 1999

Traditionally, the last Sunday in July is associated with the pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, a mountain near Westport in Co Mayo. Documentary evidence associating Croagh Patrick, or ‘The Reek’, as it is affectionately known, with St Patrick’s forty days of fasting there, goes back at least to the seventh-century account of Bishop Tírechán. The traditional […]

Traditionally, the last Sunday in July is associated with the pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, a mountain near Westport in Co Mayo.

Documentary evidence associating Croagh Patrick, or ‘The Reek’, as it is affectionately known, with St Patrick’s forty days of fasting there, goes back at least to the seventh-century account of Bishop Tírechán. The traditional pilgrimage is mentioned in several documents from 1300 and it is certain that the pilgrimage extends back at least one thousand years.

Formerly a pre-Christian shrine, called Sliabh Aigli, it has been hallowed by St Patrick and by Christian footsteps and prayers through the centuries. For people outside the area the traditional date of the pilgrimage in the last Sunday of July but local people usually do it the Friday beforehand, called ‘Garland Friday’. Nowadays, the pilgrimage takes place from early morning, but until the 1970s pilgrims climbed the mountain in the darkness and were on the summit for the first of the morning Masses at daybreak. Private pilgrimages also take place on most days of the summer.

The traditional ‘station’, as distinct from the climb, begins at the eastern base of the cone at Leacht Benian, where the pilgrim walks seven rounds of the Leacht and then climbs to the top by way of the steep passage known locally as ‘the ladder’. One walks fifteen times around Teampall Phádraig on top, seven times around each of the three mounds of Roilig Mhuire and seven times around the area of Garrai Mhor on the western slope. A corresponding number of Paters and Aves and the Gloria and the Creed are said at each one of these.

The pilgrimage is not suitable for people in poor health.

From the Tuam archdiocese website.

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