Climbing Croagh Patrick

Westport Travel Blog

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Croagh (pronounced 'crow') Patrick is a holy mountain.  It's the site from which St. Patrick is supposed to have banished all the snakes from Ireland (and, thus, a mecca for snake-hatin' me!).  It's a completely treeless steep mountain on the peninsula north of Galway.  On the last Saturday of July, Catholic pilgrims climb it (the more penitent do it barefoot) en masse.  There's a small chapel up top.


Every since I heard about it, I wanted to climb. So, I did. 


Fortunately, I'm Protestant, so I get to keep my shoes on.  :)


The views from the climb out over Clew Bay are just gorgeous.  And of course, the higher you climb, the better they get.


Tina and I rented walking sticks at the bottom.  The route is utterly treeless and rocky.  Not really big rocks (ask about my hiking trip to New Hampshire some time if you want BIG rock stories) but it leaves you with an uneven footing.  Also, there's been enough rain that there were rivulets of rainwater running across the trail everywhere.


It's one of those mountains that only gets steeper as you climb till, by the time you're approaching the summit, it looks like you're climbing at about a 45 degree angle. 


There are sheep everywhere.  Duh, it's Ireland.


Tina and I are slooooooooooooow climbers, so we got passed by everyone going up.  The wind kept picking up but we kept going.  At about the 2/3 mark, you reach a ridge, turn right, and then it REALLY gets steep.


The closer we got to the ridge, the windier it got.  And then the intermittent rain became ... less intermittent.  Then it became a stinging driving rain.  But we had layers on so we kept going.  I really wanted to finish the climb.  But when we reached the ridge, we couldn't even see the valley beyond because it was covered in fog.


Plus, all the Irish were turning around and heading back down.  We thought perhaps they had the right idea.


And then the wind literally knocked me over and that really cinched our decision.


And everyone passed us going downhill too!  Like I said, Tina and I are sloooooooooow. And it was just as steep going down as it was coming up and now it was wet.  We were really grateful for those walking sticks.  I'm going to buy one when I get back home.


Of course, as we got to the bottom, the rain cleared up. 


It came back about 10 minutes later, so we felt good about that.  :)


And I will, if at all possible, go back and finish the climb.  It was a beautiful place that felt very special and I'm going back, hopefully next year.


I'll train better next time.

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photo by: maithanfear