Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy Mountain
About Croagh Patrick:
Nowhere do the Irish pay homage to their patron saint more fervently than at this mountain they call Croagh Patrick, or “the Reek”, which stands 2,510 feet over the southern shore of Clew Bay. Tradition has it that it was on this mountain that St. Patrick spent the entire Lent of the year 441 in prayer and fasting.
The summit of Croagh Patrick on its south side ends abruptly in a steep precipice, and this spot is the traditional setting of the source of the story that tells us that St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes and all venomous creatures. St. Patrick stood on the cliff edge here, tradition has it, and rang his bell. As its knell re-echoed across the barren mountaintop, a great swarm of toads, lizards and many other venomous creatures came in countless numbers and flung themselves over the precipice.
For countless years, pilgrims have scaled these painful slopes in their bare feet to reach the small plateau, with panoramic views of island-dotted Clew Bay and the entire jagged western coastline.
Note: this is a tough, steep climb and not recommended for those who are not in top physical shape. However you can choose to climb to the base, which is fairly easy, and wait for any others traveling with you who are making the climb.
For those who do make the climb, there is a real sense of accomplishment! Most Catholic tour groups include Croagh Patrick as part of their visits to Ireland and it is close to the Shrine of Knock as well.
Of course, Ireland is a relatively small country so almost every site is a few hours drive from one another.
Croagh Patrick is easily accessable by bus from several nearby towns.
Our favorite “home base” in this area is the town of Westport: a great town with lots of quaint shops and lively pubs. There are several good hotels located right in the heart of town.
Address: Croagh Patrick, Murrisk, Co. Mayo, Ireland
GPS coordinates: 53° 45′ 35.6832” N, 9° 39′ 35.2476” W
Tel: +353 (0) 98 64114
Click here for the Croagh Patrick Visitor’s Centre website