August 2007

Croagh Patrick
Climbing the Mountain in County Mayo

One of our goals for our trip was to climb the Croagh Patrick mountain in County Mayo. The 2510 ft summit was supposedly graced by St. Patrick during a 40 day fast in which he battled demonic forces and dragons. It has become a Christian pilgrimmage and hundreds of thousands climb it every year. I snagged the photo below of the mountain from the internet. As we drove into Westport we had a perfect shot of the summit but we mistakenly thought we could take some pics the next day when we planned to do our climb. Unfortunately, fog rolled in the next day and we never again got a good look at the peak. One thing we learned about Irish weather... if you're wanting a shot that requires a clear day, take it while you can. There's no guarantee you'll get another anytime soon.

A statue of St. Patrick at the base of the mountain and me wearing some dreadful ugly camo pants. Fortunately they were soaked through for three days after our climb so I couldn't offend any other Irish eyes with them after this day. We rented walking sticks for the climb; very important and necessary gear for climbing on the steep loose rock of Croagh Patrick. You can only see the base of the mountain behind me. The rest is hidden behind pea soup fog.

Looking down the mountain. We are only about a quarter of the way to the top.

This was the last clear picture we could take before we ascended into the clouds...

This crude shelter is at the halfway point. People have filled it with trash.

Looking up the trail... about twenty minutes from the summit.

From the same point looking down at two hikers climbing up behind us.

Finally at the summit after an hour and a half of hard climbing (it takes most people two hours to climb to the top). There is a small church building at the top where they hold mass once a year on the last Sunday in July. Thousands of people travel from all over the world to climb the mountain on that day. It is a pilgrimage of penance and many climb barefoot and even on their knees. This was a very steep difficult climb even for two people in good physical condition. I cannot imagine making the climb barefoot.

No I don't need to focus my camera. This is how thick the fog was at the top of the mountain. Craig was only standing about 15 feet away from me. At this point a freezing rain began falling and continued until we climbed back down to the base. I suppose that would have made many people miserable... but Craig and I are those kind of crazy folks who really love the most difficult challenges. All of the rain and fog just made our accomplishment seem that much better. We met so many great people on the way up and down who were struggling through it along with us. It did take three days for our clothes to completely dry but it was worth every minute!

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On the Road to Westport
County Clare & County Galway
"The Quiet Man" Village
Cong & Ashford Castle
Croagh Patrick
Climbing the Mountain in County Mayo
Grace O'Malley's Castle
Rockfleet & the Road to Dooagh on Achill Island
Mizen Head
The Southernmost Point of Irelend
Dingle Peninsula
The Celtic Sea, Beehive Huts & Galorus Oratory in County Kerry
Co. Kerry & Co. Clare
Shannon Ferry, an Irish Cemetery, Lahinch & the Cliffs of Moher
Mooghaun Ringfort
Magic in County Clare
Online Resources About Ireland
Cliffs of Moher
Computer Desktop Wallpaper