Croagh Patrick, Ireland's Holy Mountain rises out of the verdant countryside surrounding Clew Bay. A perfect cone, Croagh Patrick presents hillwalkers and budding mountaineers with an enjoyable, sustained hike. Some steeper scrambling can be found off the standard Pilgrimage route, though I'm not aware of other specific routes. Yet, because of the potential for erosion and loose scree/wet turf perhaps it's best to stick to the already widened and eroded Pilgrim Route.
Irish folklore and tradition hold that Saint Patrick climbed this mountain in 441 and fasted on the summit for forty days. Each year, thousands of the faithful undertake an annual pilgrimage on the last Sunday in July (often refered to as "Reek" or Mountain Sunday.) Most stop at prayer stations along the way finishing with a celebratory Mass at the small summit chapel. Some of the most devoted have even completed the rough summit trail on their knees!
An enjoyable day hike for the fit, climbers are rewarded with spectacular views of the Mayo countryside, Ireland's rugged coast and distant islands, as well as the peaks or "Bens" of the Connemara Highlands to the South...clear Irish skies permitting of course!
Croagh Patrick is located approximately five miles south of the town of Westport, County Mayo. The standard route, a class 2 hike on a wide and winding trail, begins from the village of Murrisk on the Louisburgh road. Frequent signs direct pilgrims and climbers to the visitor center.
No permits or summit fees. No knowledge of seasonal closures and there is no fee to park at the visitor's center, though donations are gladly accepted and the giftshop is excellent.
When To Climb
June and July seem to bring the most clear days to Ireland's coasts. Though plan (with fully waterproof gear) on the possibility of horizontal rain from fierce gales at all times. Snow and sleet are not an uncommon sight during the winter months.
Inexpensive Bed and Breakfasts abound in the surrounding countryside. Camping information is available at the visitor's center and they also have showers available for a minimal charge.
For current mountain conditions you can contact the Croagh Patrick Information Center at 098-64114 or [email protected]