30,000 make annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick summit – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

30,000 make annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick summit

They came in their droves, with boots and staffs, water-bottles and raincoats. Backpacks carried supplies but nothing so heavy that it would cause problems on the climb.

For this was Reek Sunday 2014 which means it was time for the Faithful to climb Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo. After 1500 years, the tradition shows no sign of wavering and this year, Archbishop Neary of Tuam was at the misty summit to celebrate Mass at 8am.

His sermon spoke of the importance of hope in the Christian religion, and the need to remember God in a world that so often forgets Him. Where better to be reminded, than at a place of such incredible beauty?

After some minutes of peaceful reflection, and a chance to take in the amazing view, it was back down the mountain for the brave souls who had set off before dawn to make it to the summit in time for the Archbishop’s Mass.

The top is notoriously difficult to navigate, steep and unforgiving, especially for the barefoot pilgrims.
Every year, the emergency services are on patrol for any climber who gets into difficulty. This year, Mayo Mountain Rescue were called on to look after 17 casualties. 4 people were taken off the mountain by stretcher while 2 more were airlifted down by helicopter. But out of 30,000 hardy pilgrims, those figures aren’t too bad.

Back on ground level, there’s chat and camaraderie and a general sense of relief. Buoyed by a successful descent, everyone is sure of one thing – they’re all coming back next year.

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