Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage

Mt. Croagh Patrick (also spelled Croach Patrick), or the Reek, is a mountain near Westport in County Mayo, Ireland. Each year, pilgrims and visitors trek to the top to pray at the stations of the cross, participate in Mass, do penance (barefoot) or just enjoy the spectacular view. It is 762m/2515 ft. asl.


Mt. Croagh Patrick has been a sacred site since before the arrival of Christianity – it was regarded as the dwelling place of the deity Crom Dubh and was the focus of the harvest festival of Lughnasa, traditionally held around August 1. It was especially important for women, who might sleep on the summit during Lughnasa to encourage fertility. Neolithic art can still be seen on a rock outcropping known as "St. Patrick's Chair" along the path to the top, and a Celtic hill fort was recently uncovered at the base of the mountain. 
According to Christian tradition, St. Patrick went up the sacred mountain in 441 AD. After fasting at the summit for 40 days, he banished all the snakes and demons from Ireland. The site quickly became an important place of Christian pilgrimage. A stone oratory dating to between 430 and 890 AD was recently discovered on the summit. 

Getting There

The nearest town to Croagh Patrick is Westport in County Mayo, 5 miles/8 kms. away. Westport is the terminus of the railway line from Dublin. The regional airports are Ireland West Airport Knock, 60 km (36 miles) away with several flights a day to the United Kingdom, and Galway airport, with daily flights to the United Kingdom.


Mt. Croagh Patrick is the most important Catholic pilgrimage destination in Ireland. Almost 30,000 pilgrims make the trek on the last Sunday in July, known as "Reek Sunday". For most Catholics the pilgrimage to the top of the sacred mountain is an act of penance. Accordingly, some untake the journey barefoot or even on their knees. At the summit Mass is held each day in a small chapel.  
The full pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. The first main sight on the pilgrimage path is a statue of St. Patrick. Although it is not one of the official stations, it has become a place of prayer and makes a good goal for those not able to climb all the way to the top. There are three pilgrimage stations on the way to the summit, each of which has a sign with instructions for the rituals and prayers. The stations are as follows:

First Station (Leacht Benáin): Base of the Mountain
  • 1. Walk 7 times around the mound of stones while saying: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed 
Second Station: The Summit

  • Kneel and say: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed 
  • Pray near the chapel for the Pope's intentions. 
  • Walk 15 times around the chapel while saying: 15 Our Fathers, 15 Hail Marys 
  • Walk 7 times around Leaba Phádraig (Patrick's Bed) saying: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed 
Third Station: Roilig Mhuire

  • Walk 7 times around each mound of stones saying: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed 
  • Walk 7 times around the whole enclosure of Roilig Mhuire praying. 

There is an information centre at the base of the mountain. Open daily from St. Patrick's Day through October from 10 am but check beforehand ( Services include lavatories, restaurant, information services, guided tours of the mountain, packed lunches, secure lockers, craft shop, shower facilities (for a nominal fee). 

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