Thursday, July 23, 2015

Croagh Patrick - Ireland's 'Holy Mountain'

Croagh Patrick is billed as "Ireland's Holy Mountain", as its' summit is the setting for the legend of St Patrick casting all the snakes from Ireland. It is also the scene of some of the most unholy footpath erosion in the Western World. The great hill-engineers of Scotland's Cairngorm National Park should be seconded to Ireland for a month or two to sort this out, before the whole thing turns into a hideous channel of mud and scree! Or - perhaps if Patrick could be persuaded to make a comeback he could cast all the scree out, and leave walkers with a navigable surface!

Apparently, for Roman Catholics, Croagh Patrick is not just a hillwalk, but also a site of pilgrimage which explains the various shrines dotting the ascent route, and the toilet block halfway up! Very keen Catholics, who believe that acts of contrition contribute to God's willingness to forgive sin are known to climb the hill barefoot to facilitate this. We didn't know about this when we climbed Croagh Patrick, and so when we spotted a barefoot pilgrim working his way up the hill, my younger son called out, "Hobbit!!!", much to the amusement of the pilgrim's two suitably-shoe'd companions.

The views from the top should have been magnificent, but sadly we were offered little more than thick cloud, and a gentle soaking of Irish Rain. 

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