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Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick is a 772 metres mountain in the west of Ireland and an important site of pilgrimage. It is the third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin. On "Reek Sunday", the last Sunday in July every year, over 15,000 pilgrims climb it.

The mountain is located 5 miles from the picturesque town of Westport and its conical shape soars majestically above the surrounding countryside. Magnificent views of Clew Bay and the surrounding south Mayo countryside are spectacular from all stages of the ascent of the mountain.

Currently it is estimated that nearly one million pilgrims climb to the summit each year, as many as forty thousand on the last Sunday in July. In the Irish Christian tradition the ascent is undertaken as an act of penance for wrongdoing, and many of the pilgrims climb barefooted or even on their knees!

A seam of gold was discovered in the mountain in the 1980s, which could produce 700,000 t (770,000 short tons) of ore. Mayo County Council elected not to allow mining, deciding that the gold was "fine where it was".

Evidence shows that Croagh Patrick was a place of tremendous importance in the pre-Christian era, as indicated by the discovery of a Celtic hill fort encircling the summit of the mountain. Neolithic foundations have been found on the summit and, on a natural rock outcrop (known as ‘St. Patrick’s Chair) along the pilgrimage route to the summit, Neolithic art has been discovered.

The walks are suitable for most people who are relatively fit and should be within the capabilities of most. The nearest town to Croagh Patrick is Westport in County Mayo, just five miles away.