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16/10/2021

Your guide to Climbing Croagh Patrick 2021

New arrangements in place for those climbing the reek

The Reek Sunday pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick may well have been postponed last weekend. However, Longford man Willie Healy was among those who completed the climb.

Climbing Croagh Patrick popular among thousands every year

The annual Reek Sunday Pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick, which was cancelled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will be going ahead this year albeit in a much extended format from Wednesday to Saturday, July 1-31.

The Catholic Church has issued the following advice to those making the trip to the Mayo mountain near Wesport.

  • For this year only, the Reek Pilgrimage is to be extended to four days per week for the month of July.
  • Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation will be available on the summit at 11am; Mass to be celebrated at 12pm
  • Saturday’s Mass will be celebrated at 10am; Confessions at 11am.
  • The Masses will be limited to the numbers permitted for outdoor gatherings at that particular time, which currently apply to 100 people up to 4 July and 200 people from 5 July.
  • The Reek Pilgrimage normally takes place on the last Sunday in July, however the indulgence for the pilgrimage extends throughout the summer months up to the end of September.
  • This is the first time in the history of the pilgrimage that such an extended pilgrimage programme is offered in order to facilitate those wishing to fulfill the obligations of the pilgrimage on the mountain.
  • The QR code on the poster can be scanned for daily updates on the pilgrimage, particularly in relation to weather conditions.
  • Details of how to fulfill the spiritual requirements of the pilgrimage are available on www.westportparish.ie and on signage in the carpark at the start of the ascent.
  • Priests with a Celebret or letter from their bishop or superior are both invited and welcome to take part in the pilgrimage, to celebrate Mass and hear Confessions, the commitment will be for three hours on the summit on a given day.
  • Priests who wish to participate in the Sacraments must contact Father Charlie McDonnell in advance on frchaz@me.com or +353 (0) 86 819 3884.
  • Pilgrims are asked to plan their trip to Croagh Patrick as early as possible and keep in mind that mid-week is traditionally a quieter time to climb.
  • Please remember that pilgrimage is a journey with others and an opportunity for respect and support.
  • Each days pilgrimage is weather dependent and may have to change at short notice.
  • Pilgrims are asked to park in a careful manner and should not cause obstruction.
  • Please respect the local community and the environs.
  • Please be familiar with the ‘Leave No Trace’ policy on the mountain.
  • It is a difficult climb please be prepared.
  • Please familiarize yourself with advice on www.westportparish.ie www.mayomountainrescue.ie and www.mountaineering.ie as well as checking the weather on www.met.ie
  • Please remember that all Covid-19 guidelines and precautions followed on the ground must also be followed on the mountain.

Administrator of Westport Father Charlie McDonnell announced the pilgrims were welcome back to Mayo. 

“It’s been a different and a difficult year, a year in which we have had to hand so much over to the Lord, to place so much in His hands.  Pilgrimage has always been a strong vehicle for both petition and thanksgiving and, in 2021, above any year, we are delighted to offer and extended Reek Pilgrimage acknowledging and giving thanks for the fact that we journey very much under the protective hand of God.

“Each year, while all of the spiritual benefits of the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage have been available to pilgrims from June to September, up to now the Sacraments have only been available on Reek Sunday.  This year, due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, it would be impossible to facilitate the pilgrimage on one day only so I am arranging to greatly extend provision of the Sacraments for pilgrims throughout the month of July.  It is my dear hope that this unprecedented and adventurous undertaking will provide all those who wish to come to Ireland’s Holy Mountain as pilgrims to do so safely and in their own time. 

“For generations, the annual Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage has held a central place in the life of the Church in Ireland and I am delighted that an extended version will be available next month.  Reek Pilgrimage 2021 is an exciting and ambitious project to undertake and will require great generosity on the part of lay volunteers and priests alike.  It is wonderful to be in a position to go ahead under very clear health management guidelines and I encourage all pilgrims to enter into it in a way that makes it a success for all involved.

“I am especially grateful that, as in previous years, Archbishop Michael Neary will celebrate Mass at 6.30pm on the eve of Reek Sunday, 24 July, in Saint Mary’s Church, Westport.  I would like to appeal to priests from all over the country to become involved so as to make Reek 2021 a truly national pilgrimage.  The extended plan this year will involve three times the number of priests than would normally be needed, so help is very much required throughout July.  It is important that all priests who wish to participate in the pilgrimage book in as early as possible and they can do so on frchaz@me.com.

“To be safe, I ask that pilgrims take care to plan their pilgrimage well in advance and try as best they can to choose a day that would traditionally be quieter on the mountain.  Parishioners throughout the country are by now well familiar with restrictions and while this will apply in the same way it will involve numbers allowed for outdoor gatherings.”

Father McDonnell concluded: “As we have all come through so much over the last fifteen months, I anticipate that the 2021 Reek Pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick will be particularly memorable from a faith perspective.  I offer this prayer of thanksgiving to God as the pilgrimage will be extended throughout the month of July: 'In His Hand are the depths of the earth, the heights of the mountains are His also’ (Psalm 95:4)”.

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