St. Patrick and the Connection to Croagh Patrick

It’s that time of year again with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to delve into Ireland’s fascinating history. And what better place to explore than Croagh Patrick, a site deeply intertwined with the legend of St. Patrick himself?


St. Patrick was born in Britain around 385 and taken to Ireland during a raid as a slave to herd sheep on the west coast of Ireland. He spent 6 years in Ireland before escaping back to his family. According to his writings, a vision appeared to him in a dream and told him to return to Ireland as a missionary.


Few mountains in Ireland are more associated with St. St. Patrick than Croagh Patrick. St. Patrick is believed to have fasted at the summit for 40 days around 441.


Legend has it that St. Patrick banished snakes from all of Ireland from the summit of Croagh Patrick. While there is no record of snakes ever in Ireland, this tale is likely a metaphor for banishing paganism from Ireland. The shamrock was famously used to illustrate the Trinity to the native pagans.


As Irish people emigrated to places like North America, they brough their St. Patrick’s Day traditions to their new homes and over time, the day evolved into a celebration of Irish culture.


Every year 100,000 people make the journey to the 764m summit with an estimated 5,000 – 10,000 who climb Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday (The Last Sunday of July) alone. Not to mention all of us nature lovers and weekend warriors who call Croagh Patrick our playground.


So why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th?


Well, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day March 17th because this is the day St. Patrick is believed to have died.



And if Croagh Patrick is on your bucket list this year, you can almost guarantee one thing. The climate at the summit will be different than on the ground. Remember, there’s a reason it’s called the Wild Atlantic Way. Out of almost 100,000 people who climb Croagh Patrick every year, Mayo Mountain Rescue and the Coastguard receive about 50 call outs. Most people ascend and descend safely. You can play your part by following all trail signs and wearing appropriate footwear and clothing. 



There are two main routes up Croagh Patrick:


The Traditional Pilgrimage Route: This is the route most climbers take. Starting from the car park in Murrisk, the 7km round trip takes you up a well-trodden path with a challenging loose scree near the summit. It's a steep climb, but the views over Clew Bay are worth every step.


The Tochar Phadraig Pilgrim Path: This ancient pilgrimage route starts in Ballintubber Abbey and stretches 35km to the summit of Croagh Patrick. It's a much longer journey, taking in the beautiful Mayo countryside, and is best tackled over a couple of days.


If you do decide to climb Croagh Patrick, you can pop in to our two stores in Westport, only 15 minutes’ drive from Croagh Patrick. We’ve climbed The Reek more times than there are days of the week and our team will be on hand to advise you how to keep warm and dry on the trails.


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