Rescuers carry injured pilgrim down mountain
RESCUE services were forced to carry an injured pilgrim from near the peak of Croagh Patrick to the base because bad weather conditions had prevented a helicopter from landing.
And in another shocking incident, a 10-year-old boy who was ascending the mountain was knocked over by a woman who fell on him while she was descending.
Up to 7pm yesterday evening, there were between 12 and 14 people taken to hospital for what turned out to be minor injuries. A spokesperson for the HSE in Galway said that most of those taken in were treated and discharged within a few hours.
It is estimated that another 40 or so pilgrims sustained minor injuries.
The spate of injuries, some of which were thought to be serious at first, came during the most hazardous conditions experienced for years on the annual pilgrimage to Mayo's holy mountain.
Most of the injuries were sustained on 'the Cone' -- the steep and rock-strewn final ascent to the summit.
The most serious incident involved a woman who fell near the summit of the mountain. A coastguard helicopter arrived to transfer the casualty to hospital but was unable to land due to the foggy conditions which persisted throughout the day.
It took a number of hours for a team of mountain rescuers to carry her to the base of the mountain on a stretcher.
They also carried down the 10-year-old boy after a female climber had accidentally fallen on him.
Last night, Dick Harnedy, a spokesman for Mayo Mountain Rescue, repeated his organisation's earlier request that "urgent safety maintenance" be carried out on the dangerous path near the summit of the 2,500ft-high mountain.
Relentless erosion caused by a huge increase in the numbers climbing the mountain has created an area on the pilgrim path which is now infamously known to rescuers as "the bad bend".
Mr Harnedy explained that the majority of accidents -- many of which have involved serious injury -- were occurring along this problem stretch of mountain.
He said that at least three-quarters of these injuries could be avoided if some safety maintenance was carried out on 'the Cone'.