The path up to this 800 meter mountain is really steep and scary at some places. It only consists of rocks and when it get steep it looks really dangerous. Bring a stick, it's a good thing to have - especially one on the way down to avoid sliding down!!
I had to give up half way unfortunately because the path was getting too steep and scary. But the view of Clew Bay from there was fantastic! It must be even better to get to the top and see it from there!
People who are fit will need 2 hours to climb it, the record for going up and down, however, is 44 minutes!!!
This was our first view of Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick or "The Reek".
It's only 765 meters high but it definitely looks higher than that. Plus it looks rather strange because there's no trees or anything - and a white chapel on the top. A very unusual sight I think!
Anyway, this is place where St. Patrick is said to have banished the snakes from Ireland when he was doing his 40 days fast on the summit. To this day snakes do not exist in Ireland!
The chapel was build in 1905 and since then there took place four weddings and one funeral (Heard this one before ;-) up there.
Pilgrimages have been carried out to the summit for a very long time. A lot of people climbed the mountain barefoot!!! Dates for this have changed since 1974.
The main pilgriage date does not take place on St. Patrick's day anymore (it was too dangerous in the wet and misty March weather). It isn't performed at nights anymore because that also became too dangerous!
Nowadays there are three days in summer when there are services available on the summit:
Reek Sunday (last sunday in July)
Garland Friday (last friday in July)
Feast of the Assumption (14 August).
The piece of art by John Behan is called "Coffin Ship". It is an impressive monument showing a ship full of skeletons - a symbol to remember all the people who died on the ships to America when they wanted to escape Ireland's potato famine in the 19th century. The monument was unveiled in 1997to mark the 150th anniversary of the famine.
At the bottom of Croagh Patrick there's a very nice visitor centre. You can get quite nice Irish souvenirs here - along with lots of books on Croagh Patrick of course.
There is also a very nice cafe in the visitor centre that serves tasty snacks and lovely tea and cakes. I had a wrap here which was excellent and cheap!
What to buy: T-Shirts, jewellry, books, postcards ... the usual. In my opinion the souvenirs here were much nicer than in a lot of other shops all over Ireland!
What to pay: The cafe offers great food for low prices!
If you meet someone on a hiking path, no matter whether you are in a deserted area or on a busy path, say hello. And if you meet someone who says hello reply for god's sake!!
I met so many tourists who didn't reply when I said hello but stared at me as if I were an alien and I thought that was very annoying!
Make sure to wear Hiking boots, everything else is lethal. I saw people trying to climb the reek on bicycle shows, they were sliding all the way down!
Miscellaneous: Then bring a stick, it'll help you on the way down. (You can rent or buy them at the car park as well! It costs IEP 1.50 to rent and IEP 2 to buy or something...)
Don't forget to bring lots of drinks (non alcoholic please!!!!) And leave your cigarettes in the car ;-) Then you have something to reeeaaally look forward to on the way down ;)
Fondest memory: After giving up half way to climb Croagh Patrick I walked down and sat down in the cafe of the visitors centre to wait for my boyfriend who went all the way up. A few old ladies and a nun asked me whether we they can sit at my table and after a while they invited me for a tea and we had a lovely afternoon tea and a nice chat. That's Ireland for me!