Croagh Patrick, which overlooks Clew Bay in County Mayo, is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. 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. The mountain now takes the name of Ireland’s patron saint, who, according to Christian tradition, fasted at the peak of the mountain for 40 days in 441.
Each year The Reek, as it is colloquially known, attracts about 1 million pilgrims, many of whom spend the last Sunday in July climbing to the summit in honour of St Patrick. At the top, there is a modern chapel where mass is celebrated and confessions are heard. Participants also have the opportunity to take in panoramic views of Clew Bay and the surrounding area.
Croagh Patrick is a high mountain and is a difficult climb, so those climbing it should be prepared. It is advisable to wear solid footwear and bring good clothing, a stick and mobile phone. It can get very cold on top of the mountain and weather conditions can change during the course of the climb.