Beautiful Donegal
25th July 2016
Death Prevented Them
25th July 2016

Croagh Patrick

Some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland can be seen as you travel from Clifden, in Connemara, to Westport, in County Mayo. This includes one of our most famous landmarks, Croagh Patrick, which towers majestically over the rugged landscape.

Ireland’s Holy Mountain traces its place in history to its connection with Saint Patrick. According to Tirechán, a seventh century writer, ‘Patrick went on to Mount Egli to fast and pray on it forty days and forty nights’. The Papal registers record that certain indulgences were granted to pilgrims who complete the climb and also to those who attend confession and receive communion in the chapel on the summit.

Originally the climb was done at night. The winding track from the base of the mountain to the summit was illuminated with torches and lamps carried by the pilgrims. Weather conditions were very changeable and sometimes pilgrims who began the climb in favourable conditions soon found themselves subjected to high winds or torrential downpours. Because of the high incidence of accidents the night climb was eventually abandoned and was replaced by a daylight pilgrimage.

For many, the pilgrimage is only complete when they have gone to Confession and received Communion on the summit of the mountain and also completed the ‘Stations of the Reek’. There are a total of three Stations, located on different parts of the mountain. Pilgrims stop and pray at each of them. The first Station is called Leacht Benain and is located at the base of the mountain cone. It consists of a circular mound of stones. Pilgrims walk around this mound seven times, while reciting seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and one Creed.

The second Station begins when the pilgrims reach the top of the mountain. There they kneel down and recite seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and one Creed. Then they say fifteen Our Fathers, fifteen Hail Marys and one Creed as they walk around the chapel on the summit fifteen times, in a clockwise direction. The pilgrims then recite seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and one Creed as they walk seven times around Leaba Phádraig (Patrick’s Bed). The third Station takes place at Roilig Mhuire (Virgin’s Cemetery). This is situated on the western side of the mountain. It consists of three mounds of stones. The pilgrims say seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and one Creed as they walk around each of the mounds seven times. Finally as they continue to pray, they walk around the enclosure seven times. The pilgrims have now completed the ‘Stations of the Reek.’
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