Croagh Patrick, also known as The Reek, is possibly Ireland’s most famous mountain and one of the country’s most important places of pilgrimage for many centuries.
Located just outside Westport in County Mayo and rising 765 metres, ‘The Reek’ attracts thousands of pilgrims each year, particularly on the last Sunday of July which is known as ‘Reek Sunday’.
According to figures from the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre, about a million people visit ‘The Reek’ each year and over 25,000 do so on Reek Sunday alone.
Whether you are climbing Croagh Patrick for religious reasons or not, the climb is definitely worth the effort as the panoramic views over Clew Bay and the Mayo countryside are simply breath taking. Locals claim 365 islands dot Clew Bay, one for each day of the year, and we’ll take their word for it. It is a magnificent reward.
Another traditional day of pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick is the last Friday of July, known as ‘Garland Friday’, and15th August which is the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady.
On those special dates, pilgrims generally attend mass at the chapel located at the summit.
It is believed St Patrick fasted for 40 days at the summit of the mountain back in the 5th century and that this tradition has been passed on from generation to generation.
While Christians climbed Croagh Patrick to honour St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland; pre-Christian communities already treated the Reek as an important place of pilgrimage and it was gathering place to celebrate the beginning of harvest season, known as the Celtic festival of Lughnasa.
Whether for pagan or christian reasons, The Reek has been a spiritual destination for pilgrims for over 5000 years, and it is widely considered to be Ireland’s holiest mountain.
We would definitely consider it one of the things to add to your must-do while you are visiting the country.
How to get there: You can take the train from Dublin to Westport and then take a taxi to the Croagh Patrick visitor centre, 5 miles / 8 kms out of town. There are also some bus services between Westport and the Visitor Centre.
Try to avoid Reek Sunday if you don’t like crowds.
In order to make the most of the views from the top, plan your climb for a clear day (if possible)
Many pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick on their knees or barefoot but we would highly recommend weating good hiking shoes with good grip as some parts of the trail are really steep and gravelly.
It takes approximately 2 hours to reach the summit and nearly as long to get back down.
For more information about our hiking in Ireland tours or to request an itinerary and quote, contact our travel specialists