Croagh Patrick


by Kerry Lee & Oisin Joyce 45 months ago
 
18
Ominous undulating clouds churn above Clew Bay
The first stage of the climb is deceptively long
The pyramidical peak nearing the half way point
The mountain in its entirety as seen from Westport Quay
There is definitely a mystical vibe to the place

The original 'man on the misty mountain', Saint Patrick, is said to have fasted at the summit of Croagh Patrick for forty days and forty nights before he banished all serpents from the shores of Éireann. This last feat, he supposedly achieved by casting out the mountain's resident succubus, Corra, to whom our pagan ancestors had been conducting annual pilgrimages since at least 3000 B.C.

Remarkably, the pilgrimages have persisted, ever since Saint Patrick's Christian assimilation of this ancient pagan passage in the 5th century, right up to the present day. Each year, on the last Sunday in July, tens of thousands of pilgrims convene at the peak for a special mass celebration. Many perform an act of penance by climbing the steep 760 meters of loose scree and sharp mountain debris entirely in their bare feet.

In the late 1980s it was discovered that the holy mountain contains masses of gold, roughly seven ounces per tonne of rock. When an onslaught of catastrophic strip-mining operations seemed imminent, local communities, ecological activists, and representatives of the Catholic Church banded together and fought the mining plans with zeal.

As a result of staunch public protest, this sacred site received protected status, and the surrounding hinterland (a region of stunning natural beauty) was saved from an inevitable influx of sodium cyanide, a toxic byproduct of modern gold extraction processes.

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