Croagh Patrick

  • Croagh Patrick - Sunset - © Copyright Flickr User John Brennan
  • Croagh Patrick - Chapel - © Flickr user andrewcparnell
  • Croagh Patrick -  - © Flickr user - john brennan
  • Croagh Patrick -  - © Flickr user keertmoed
  • Croagh Patrick -  - © Flickr user keertmoed
  • Croagh Patrick -  - © Flickr user john brennan
  • Croagh Patrick -  - © Flickr user john brennan
  • Croagh Patrick - View of Clew  - © Flickr user john brennan
  • Croagh Patrick - Start point - © Flickr user keertmoed
  • Croagh Patrick - © From Clew Bay - © Flickr user Mark Waters
  • Croagh Patrick - This is what you do at the top - © Flickr user john brennan
  • Croagh Patrick - And they walk it barefoot you know... - © Copyright Flickr User Keertmoed

Key information: Croagh Patrick

  • The so-called Sinai of Ireland, a pre-Christian sacred mountain converted to Christian Pilgrim Route.
  • St Patrick reputedly fasted for forty days on, and then banished Ireland's snakes from, its peak.
  • The dominant peak in this part of the Mayo landscape affords great views over Connemara, the island-studded Clew Bay and the the Neiphin Beg mountains.
  • This is a place of pilgrimage; the route is always well-populated, and expect crowds of anything between of 15 and 40,000, many of them barefoot, on the mass days at the end of July and 15 August. Expect the litter that accompanies them.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating83
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest13
  • Human interest15
  • Charisma28
  • Negative points5
  • Total rating83
  • Note: Negs: popularity; mess

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 5km
  • 4.5 hours
  • Maximum Altitude: 764m
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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Croagh Patrick - And they walk it barefoot you know... - © Copyright Flickr User Keertmoed

WALK SUMMARY

Croagh Patrick, alternatively known as The Reek, or by its pagan name, Cruachn Aigle, dominates the Mayo landscape on the south side of Clew bay and has been a place of religious significance for millennia. Excavations show evidence of a Celtic hill fort encircling the peak, and amber and glass beads dating back to 300BC have been found here. By the time that Johnny-come-lately, Saint Patrick, arrived here in the 5th Century, the harvest-and-fertility festival of Lughnasa had been celebrated here for a good 800 years, probably more. Christian belief places St Patrick on its top, fasting out the Lent of 441AD and using his consequent holy powers to zap the country's snakes. In modern times, the mountain, and the small white chapel on its peak, have become magnets for Catholic pilgrims many of whom actually complete the climb barefoot

While, clearly, this is great for those of a religious bent, and fascinating from the anthropological point of view, it does render the mountain unappealing for anyone of a Wordsworthian nature. Though visitor numbers peak with the influx of between 15 and 40,000 pilgrims to the chapel's two masses on Reek Sunday (the last in July) and 15 August, the route is pretty populous at any time of year. And however well-intentioned, crowds of this size bring problems in their wake: the occasionally strenuous route is badly eroded all the way up, and the mountainside is sadly scattered with litter. Anyone prepared to overlook these obvious disadvantages, though, will be rewarded by views over an ancient landscape, the hundred islands of Clew stretched out green in the glittering sea, that make it obvious why the generations have found themselves overtaken by spiritual urges while standing there.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Guidebooks/maps/background reading

Suggest books and maps

Guidebooks

The Mountains of Ireland  – Paddy Dillon/ Cicerone: enthusiastic and exhaustive exploration of every one of the country’s 200+ summits.

Walking in Ireland – Lonely Planet

Other books

Maps

http://www.stanfords.co.uk/stock/mayo-159185/

http://www.walkingguideireland.com/pages/map.html

http://www.jomidav.com/EuroDayTrek/CroaghPatrick.gif

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. The best (and the most user-friendly) online source of maps (and is also good for guidebooks).

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

Ireland’s climate is generally pretty temperate, though April-September is generally pleasantest.

Weather

Be prepared for a considerable amount of rain, though, plus fog and winter snow. There is little shelter on the mountain, either from sun or rain.

 

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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The Croagh Patrick Visitor’s centre, which marks the start-point of the trail, is at Murrisk, five miles from Westport, Co Mayo. Westport is served by trains and buses from Dublin. Nearest airports: Horan (36 miles) and Galway.

Route(s)

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Starting at the Croagh Patrick Visitors’ Centre, which is well-equipped and provides lockers, showers, packed lunches, guides and souvenirs, the route is impossible to miss. The walk is roughly 2-3 hours up and 2 down.

 

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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  • Mountain weather: Rain, cold and wind are possible at any time of year. Snow in winter.
  • Heat Though temperatures are never extreme, there is no shelter from the sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.

See also the websites in our useful linkspage for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do this walk independently.

Guided/supported

While this walk can be done independently, it can be combined with other walks along this part of Ireland’s romantic west coast to make an excellent holiday. Expedition organisers include:

 

Accommodation

Westport is a thriving tourist town with plentiful accommodation. There are also numerous B&Bs in the closer vicinity. Booking ahead is recommended, especially in high season.

 

 

 

Other information and tips

Don’t let the fact that religious fervor drives some people up this mountain in bare feet fool you: it’s still a mountain, and the badly-eroded path can be rough. Wear appropriate footgear.

 

 

 

 

Useful websites and information

 

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us:

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

An alternative, 12 km route along Croagh Patrick’s ridge from Belclare Bridge to Lecanvey (can be done as a circuit, but with 5km of boring road-walking at the end; recommend taking two cars and leaving one at Lecanvey) takes in the chapel at the summit, plus spectacular walking views of Connemara, Clew Bay and the Neiphin Beg mountains. Full description here: http://towns.mayo-ireland.ie/webx?14@@.ee7b86b

The Tóchar Phádraig (Patrick’s Causeway), a 55 km pilgrim route, starts at Ballintubber Abbey and follows a section of the ancient chariot road of the Kings of Connaught to Croagh Patrick. This route predates Christianity, and was the main route from Rath Cruachan, the seat of the kings of Connacht, to Cruachán Aigle. Contact Ballintubber Abbey at +353 (0)94 30934.

The Western Way: 170km of gorgeous marine and mountain scenery stretching from the Fjord of Killary to the Ox Mountains and intersecting with the Tóchar Phádraig just west of Westport.

Other activities

Riding: trekking and beach riding; Carrowholly Stable & Trekking Centre (+353 (0) 982 7057); Mulranny Riding Centre (+353 (0) 983 6126)

Sea-fishing: charter boat, The Naughty Lady, takes fishing and diving parties from Murrisk: Austin Gill, (+353 (0) 986 4865)

Swimming: West Mayo and Clew Bay are riddled with blue flag beaches.

Ireland’s National Pastime: There are plenty of good hostelries to choose from in and around Westport

Croagh Patrick -  - ©Flickr user - john brennan

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Croagh Patrick -  - ©Flickr user keertmoed...
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