Mt. Croagh Patrick (also spelled Croach Patrick) is a mountain near the town of Westport in County Mayo, Ireland. Each year, as many as one million pilgrims and visitors make the trek to the top to pray at the stations of the cross, participate in Mass, do penance (in which case the rocky journey is undertaken barefoot) or just enjoy the spectacular view.
History of Mt. Croagh Patrick
Known in Irish Celtic as Cruach Phádraig and colloquially as "the Reek," Mt. Croagh Patrick has been a sacred site since ancient times. Before the arrival of Christianity, the Celtic people regarded the mountain as the dwelling place of the deity Crom Dubh.
The mountain was the focus of the harvest festival of Lughnasa, traditionally held around August 1. The sacred mountain was especially important for women, who would sleep on the summit during Lughnasa to encourage fertility.
Neolithic art can still be seen on a rock outcropping known as "St. Patrick's Chair" along the path to the top, and a Celtic hill fort was recently uncovered at the base of the mountain.
According to Christian tradition, St. Patrick went up the sacred mountain at festival time in 441 AD. After fasting at the summit for 40 days, he banished all the snakes and demons from Ireland.
The site quickly became an important place of Christian pilgrimage. A stone oratory dating to between 430 and 890 AD was recently discovered on the summit.
Mt. Croagh Patrick is the most important Catholic pilgrimage destination in Ireland. Nearly one million visitors, most of them pilgrims, climb to the top every year. Almost 30,000 pilgrims make the trek on the last Sunday in July, known as "Reek Sunday."
For most Catholics who visit Mt. Croagh Patrick, especially on Reek Sunday, the pilgrimage to the top of the sacred mountain is an act of penance. Accordingly, some untake the journey barefoot or even on their knees. The summit has a small chapel where Mass is held each day.
The full pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. The first main sight on the pilgrimage path is a statue of St. Patrick, erected in 1928 by a Westport pastor. Although it is not one of the official stations (see below), it has become a place of prayer and makes a good goal for those not able to climb all the way to the top.
There are three pilgrimage stations on the way to the summit of Croagh Patrick, each of which has a sign with instructions for the proper rituals and prayers. The stations are as follows:
First Station (Leacht Benáin): Base of the Mountain
Second Station: The Summit
Third Station:Roilig Mhuire
The nearest town to Croagh Patrick is Westport in County Mayo, five miles away. Westport is the terminus of a 250-km rail line from Dublin, which serves the town and surrounding area. The N5 national primary route connects the Westport to Castlebar, as well as connecting to the N4 near Longford that leads onward to Dublin.
The other major road passing through Westport is the N59 secondary route, which rambles around the West of Ireland both to the north and south of the town.
The regional airports are Horan International Airport, 60 km (36 miles) away with several flights a day to the United Kingdom, and Galway airport, with daily flights to the United Kingdom.
Quick Facts on Mt. Croagh Patrick
|Names:||Croach Patrick · Croagh Padraig · Cruach Phádraig · Mount Croagh Patrick · Mt. Croagh Patrick · the Reek|
|Categories:||shrines; sacred mountains|
|Dates:||441 (Patrick's climb)|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||53.760484° N, 9.654922° W|
|Phone:||+353 (0) 98 64114|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Mt. Croagh Patrick|
- Croagh Patrick in County Mayo - Website dedicated to the holy mountain.
- A Stroll up Croach Patrick - A lighthearted photojournal of a trek to the top of Croagh Patrick.
- Croagh Patrick Information Centre - Information center on the archaeology of Croagh Patrick.
- Croagh Patrick Archaeological Committee - Displays winners of photo competition.
Map of Mt. Croagh Patrick, Murrisk
Below is a location map and aerial view of Mt. Croagh Patrick. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.