Saturday 22 October 2016

Thousands make annual Croagh Patrick pilgrimage

Jane O'Faherty

Published 01/08/2016 | 02:30

Pilgrim Eugene Bevans from Birr, Co Offaly, climbs the reek. Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Pilgrim Eugene Bevans from Birr, Co Offaly, climbs the reek. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Crowds returned to Croagh Patrick in droves for the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage, with thousands making their way across the Mayo peaks over the weekend.

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The event has been hailed as a success, as glorious weather held up and more people opted to start the climb in the late afternoon and evening.

Last year, the pilgrimage was called off as the area was ravaged by stormy winds and wet weather.

Shane McGlade from Derry was making his way up the peaks, after completing the journey twice before.

"I travelled down on Saturday night at 9pm and I was up for the first Mass at 8am. I started the climb at 5am," he said.

"It was a lovely day, the sun was coming through the clouds sometimes."

Read more: Crusade to save Mayo's 'broken' holy mountain as pilgrims gather

Despite the good weather, this year's climb was a challenge for Shane, who was attempting it in his bare feet for the first time.

"It was tough - not too bad going up, but tough coming down," he said. "There's more weight coming down the mountain, as you are leaning forward."

"My feet are cut up now, but I'm looking forward to putting them up. My wife Breda is a nurse, so she'll look after me."

Asked about his reasons for attempting the gruelling peaks, he said it was because of his religion.

"For me it is just for penance, I know some people do it for different reasons, but for me it is a penance," he said. "I feel great after doing it."

Meanwhile, Patrick Trayers from Lettermore, Co Galway, told the Irish Independent that he made the pilgrimage for the past four years.

"I'm on motorcycle, so I park up, put bike gear in the luggage and walk up and down," he said.

"I'm not really religious, but I'm spiritual so I do it for that reason."

He also praised the atmosphere among his fellow climbers.

"Everyone is in good form," he said. "It's a hard climb for people but you talk to about a dozen people on the way."

Emergency services also said it was a successful day, with just one cardiac incident. A man was brought to Mayo General Hospital early in the day.

It's understood up to 20,000 pilgrims attempted the climb.

Irish Independent

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