Your Experiences with Croagh Patrick

Tomorrow is the last Sunday in July, and the day that pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in County Mayo.  Has anyone in our group done the climb?  Has anyone done it barefoot?

What was the experience like? Did you consider it a real pilgrimage or simply a mountain to climb?

Views: 861

Tags: Catholicism, Croagh Patrick, Faith, Mayo

Comment by Joe Gannon on July 27, 2013 at 7:50pm

I've been to the visitors center a couple of times and we drove by it several times, but never did the climb. I'd like ot do it one time, but my wife has asthma so there's no way she can climb it.I'm sure it would have to take quite a while to get up and down, and I really couldn't make her wait doing nothing.

Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on July 28, 2013 at 1:36am

haven't climbed it in twenty years but its  a lovely walk. Great for meeting people. Nice view of the bay from the top. People used to do it as dawn.Not so many do it barefoot these days- feet become bloody quite fast. As it is a lot of people do it without proper footwear or even carrying something as simple a s a bottle of water. Mountain Rescue will be there all day. 

What I would love to see is the rolling sun Boheh where the sun runs down the mountain twice  a year.

Comment by Jim Curley on July 28, 2013 at 7:29am
Ronan, that's a spectacular picture of "the roll." Thanks for posting.
Comment by Gerard Cappa on July 28, 2013 at 9:43am


I haven't done 'The Reek' but I used to spend a good bit of time in Conamara, in the Joyce Country and around Rosmuc. I was staying down there in 1981 when I met Father Micheál McGreil. He was working to revive the traditional Conamra pilgrimage to St Patrick's Well at Mámean, high up in pass that links north and south Conamara through the Maum Turk mountains, about 30 miles from Croagh Patrick.Fr McGreil's mother still lived at the foot of the pass and he proudly embraced all the lore and tradition of the area. The mountain pass had been the main route between north and south Conamara before the advent of roads and motor transport, and the remnants of the ancient path were still evident.

The Mámean pilgrimage had been discontinued in the 19th century after being an annual highlight in the area for hundreds of years (and very likely the site of pre-Christian Lughnasa celebrations).

A travel writer in 1834 gives an insight as to why iit was eventually abandoned:

'There were a score of tents or more – some open at the sides, and more closed; hundreds in groups were seated on the grass, or on the stones which lie abundantly there. Some old persons were on their knees, beside the holy well; performing their devotions....I was warmly welcomed as a stranger by many who invited me into their tents. Of course I accepted the invitation; and the pure potheen circulated freely.'

It seems the easy access to hard liquer and the presence of crowds from north and south of the mountain range (who would otherwise seldom be in contact) resulted in an expectation that 'faction fighting' would prevail.

Anyway, I spent a few weeks in 1981 up on Mámean, digging drains through the mountain bog to open up the old path again. Fr McGréil secured accomodation for me, first of all on the southern side in Recess, and then on the northern side at Maam Bridge.

All I had to do each morning was put my spade over my shoulder and dander up to wherever I had left off the previous evening.Most of the time, I was up there on my own, slicing through the bog, or rocking the bigger boulders out of the way.

The Mámean pilgrimage takes place the week after Croagh Patrick, the first Sunday in August. It is still going strong, I believe, although I haven't been back up there since - 30+ years later, I suspect it would be my limit just to get up there, never mind then to do a day's spadework!

Comment by Jim Curley on July 28, 2013 at 9:50am
Gerard, which one of us could 30+ years on??

Amazing how many Christian sites in Ireland are Celtic sites as well.
Comment by Rónán Gearóid Ó Domhnaill on July 28, 2013 at 10:44am

Its a great path and beautiful place to be. Mass is said there a few times  a year. It was the scene of faction fights in the 19th century and supposedly an ancient pagan gathering place.

Comment by Kathleen Price on July 29, 2013 at 11:33am

My husband and I visited this site in the Fall a few years ago.  We attempted the climb but I just couldn't make it.

Comment by Ned McGinley on July 30, 2013 at 10:45am
Jim, I walked to the top with my, at the time, 16 year old grandson and I felt it was awesome. I would not even attempt it in my bare feet because I believe the footing is by far the most difficult part. The middle of the climb was in a dense wet fog, with high humidity, and a view of only 5 or 6 feet. The early casual up hill walk disappears with a steep rocky climb the last several hundred feet. On emerging from the fog on the peak there is a vista of Clew Bay that is beyond imagination. There was a fellow physically sweeping water out of the small chapel on the peak. How they got the materials up the slope to build the chapel is the mystery.
Comment by Jim Curley on July 30, 2013 at 10:56am
Great memories, Ned. Sounds like a difficult climb could be even more diffcult because of weather.Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Bit Devine on July 30, 2013 at 12:34pm

I struggled to climb the Reek in 2004, about three-quarters of the way up, we were swallowed in a deep fog. It took longer than expected and I was wearing hiking boots. I cannot even begin to imagine doing it barefoot! I think it becomes a reverent experience for anyone who has made the climb, as you start to pray for air...pray for strength...pray that it is almost at the end...and, at the top, you say a prayer that you have made it and Thank the creator for the beauty that is your's to survey... and then the clouds rolled in...the skies opened up...descent was slippery...and invoked another round of prayers

I haven't attempted since knee surgery...and there is a reason there is some enterprising soul there selling walking sticks...


You need to be a member of The Wild Geese to add comments!

Join The Wild Geese

The Wild Geese Shop

Get your Wild Geese merch here ... shirts, hats, sweatshirts, mugs, and more at The Wild Geese Shop.

Irish Heritage Partnership


Extend your reach with The Wild Geese Irish Heritage Partnership.

Congrats to Our Winners

© 2022   Created by Gerry Regan.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service