Croagh Patrick – mountain of St Patrick and the amazing Rolling Sun

Croagh Patrick rolling sun - For two days a year the sun appears to roll down the mountain

The Croagh Patrick annual pilgrimage has been cancelled for 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.

The Reek Sunday Organising Forum issued a statement, saying: “It is with a heavy heart that in light of very strong public health advice, which we fully take on board and adhere to, both for the health and protection of our own local community and that of those who may travel from other parts of the country, the annual pilgrimage for 2020 has been cancelled.

“Following wide ranging consultation with all of the partners in Reek Sunday mentioned above, as well as An Garda Síochána and Mayo County Council, who are also closely involved in the planning and execution of the pilgrimage, it became clear immediately that we would not be logistically in a position to proceed with Reek Sunday this year.

“Many of the volunteer stewards who know the terrain and the routine are themselves cocooning.

“The logistics of members of the public or volunteer emergency services coming to the assistance of someone who had fallen would create unnecessary public health risk. It was furthermore confirmed to us by a consultant in public health medicine that Reek Sunday fell outside the criteria laid out in the roadmap for reopening the country.”

Must see destination for tourists

Croagh Patrick is named after Ireland’s patron saint and is a must see destination for pilgrims and holidaymakers. It’s a tiring but satisfying walk to get to the top where it offers spectacular views over Clew Bay and the Wild Atlantic.

It’s best to visit in the summer months when the weather will be warmer and it is less likely to rain. Make sure to wrap up well, even on sunny day, as strong winds can make it feel much colder than you expect.

Croagh Patrick
Attractions in Ireland
This will make the climb more enjoyable and the views more attractive. It takes an average person about two hours to climb the mountain and another hour and a half to get back down. You can buy climbing sticks in the Visitor Centre to make the climb a little easier.

Croagh Patrick rolling sun - For two days a year the sun appears to roll down the mountain

The views from the top of the mountain are wonderful – you can see miles of Mayo Countryside. From the top of Croagh Patrick you can see Clew Bay – a natural ocean bay. Legend says there are enough islands in the Bay for one every day of the year.

Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre

The Croagh Patrick visitor Centre is known as Teach na Miasa which means ‘House of the dishes’. It got its name because monks used to wash their dishes in the stream that runs nearby. The Centre caters for pilgrims and archaeologists as well as well as nature lovers who simply wish to climb the mountain and see the views.
Croagh Patrick

It contains a craft shop where you can purchase maps and books about the area as well as a variety of items from local craftsmen and women. There is also a cafe where you can relax with a bite to eat and a coffee.

Landmarks at Croagh Patrick

There are a number of landmarks in the area and you can arrange to go on a guided tour at the Visitor Centre. Some of the landmarks include:

The Boheh Stone – A stone with Neolithic carvings that is also known as St Patrick’s chair.
The National Famine Monument – A statue of a coffin ship with skeleton bodies that was erected to mark the anniversary of the famine.
St Patrick Statue – the statue of St Patrick is not part of the official tour but has become a place of pilgrimage nonetheless. You can often see people praying by the statue.

There is a church at the top of the mountain that has a service on Reek Sunday. The church was built in 1905. In 2005 there was a plaque unveiled to mark its centenary year.

When the sun rolls down the mountain

For two days every year you can see what is known as the ‘Rolling Sun’ when you look at the mountain from St Patrick’s chair. The Rolling Sun is when the sun sets at such an angle that it appears to be rolling down the mountain rather than disappearing behind it. You can see the Rolling Sun on April 18th and August 24th.

In the 1980s there was a seam of gold discovered in the mountain, it is estimated that there could be up to €360m worth of gold buried beneath the mountain but the council in Co Mayo will not allow mining on the site.

View-from-the-top-of-Croagh-Patrick-of-the-Clew-Bay (phot Erin Hanrahan McGlynn)
View of the Clew Bay from top of Croagh Patrick (photo Erin Hanrahan McGlynn)

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