I only find it fitting to show my images of Croagh Patrick on St. Patrick’s day. Cruach Phádraig, meaning “(Saint) Patrick’s Stack”, is nicknamed the Reek but in pagan times it was known as Cruachan Aigli.
Croagh Patrick is the mountain where St. Patrick, according to tradition, performed a 40-day Lenten ritual of fasting and performing penance on the mountain in 441. It is said that after the forty days, he threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky into a lake, ultimately banishing all the snakes from Ireland.
For most Catholics, a pilgrimage to the top is an act of penance and sometimes done in bare feet and has been going on for 1500 years. In honor of St. Patrick, the mountain is climbed the last Sunday in July every year on Reek Sunday. Approximately 25,000 people climb the mountain on this day. I was fortunate enough to climb it the week after and the crowd was light. I’m sure climbing with 25,000 of my closest friends would have been great, with its own benefits, but having the mountain virtually to myself was an experience all its own.
Todays modern pilgrimage is a long-Christianised variation of a ritual that dates back to pre-Christian, pagan Celtic Ireland, celebrating the Gaelic harvest and fertility festival of Lughnasadh. Crouch Patrick draws people from all over for all different reasons. Besides the religious, there are tourists there for the scenery, hikers for physical fitness and some just for their own spiritual journey.