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Croagh Patrick

Welcome to a place of ancient history, Patrick’s sacred mountain. Croagh Patrick is situated five miles from the picturesque town of Westport in the village of Murrisk, and the mountain’s conical shape soars majestically above the surrounding countryside. It is one of the highest peaks in the West of Ireland, rising 750 metres into the sky above County Mayo. Magnificent views of Clew Bay and the surrounding south Mayo countryside are to be had from all stages of the ascent. Follow the steps of Patrick, and in doing so, meet people from far and near.

Croagh Patrick, which overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years, from the Stone Age to the present day, without interruption. Its religious significance dates back to the time of the pagans, when people are thought to have gathered here to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its “Patrician Pilgrimage” in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD, and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation ever since. Indeed the “Black Bell of St Patrick” was a highly venerated relic on Croagh Patrick for many many years. The first stop on the pilgrimage is Saint Patrick’s statue, erected in 1928 by Reverend Father Patterson with money he collected in the United States of America.

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 summit. 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. Croagh Patrick’s history as a place of worship reaches back in time as far as 3,000 BC, that is a full 5,000 years! The mountain’s popularity among Christian pilgrims dates to the time of St. Patrick, who is said to have completed a forty-day Lenten ritual of fasting and penance on its summit. Legend also has it that Croagh Patrick is the mount from which he banished snakes from Ireland forever! An archaeological excavation commenced on the summit in August or 1994. It discovered evidence of Christian activity, but also showed that Croagh Patrick was a place of tremendous importance in the pre-Christian era, as indicated by the discovery of a Celtic hill fort encircling the summit of the mountain.

How to get to Croagh Patrick

By bus, or car. Bus Eireann Route 450 from Westport to Louisburgh passes Croagh Patrick. Alternatively follow the R335 west from Westport to Croagh Patrick.

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Croagh Patrick is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Westport and Newport if you are travelling north, and Louisburgh, and Clare Island, if travelling south.

Where to stay in near Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick has many accommodation options including hotels, hostels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.

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Things to do in Croagh Patrick.

  1. Go on! Climb the mountain! Climbing Croagh Patrick mountain takes a couple of hours, and is quite arduous towards the top as you have to scramble over a giant cone of rocks before arriving at the small church on the summit. The climb is always worth undertaking for the spectacular views.
  2. Go on! Climb the mountain, but this time as a pilgrim. You could join thousands of others (some barefoot) on ‘Reek Sunday’, the last Sunday in July or on St Patricks holy day (17th March). When you begin the climb, look out for the small well from where St Patrick baptised his first converts. And remember that if you complete the climb in your bare feet you get bonus points!
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