The annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage takes place on the last Sunday in July on Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick in the Archdiocese of Tuam. The pilgrimage will be led by Most Reverend Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam and Most Reverend Charles J. Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland who will deliver the homily for this years pilgrimage.
This pilgrimage has been carried out uninterrupted for over 1500 years. Croagh Patrick has over 100,000 visitors annually with up to 20,000 making the pilgrimage on Reek Sunday weekend each year. This year’s pilgrimage on Sunday 31 July is taking place in the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Parishioners from all over Ireland are invited to participate in the pilgrimage.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available on the summit from 7.30am and will conclude at 2.00pm. The first Mass on the summit will be celebrated at 8.00am and every half hour after that until the final Mass of the day at 2.00pm.
Croagh Patrick, (c.2,510ft/765m) Ireland’s holy mountain, dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically. The Croagh Patrick pilgrimage is associated with St Patrick who, in 441, spent 40 days and nights fasting on the summit, following the example of Christ and Moses. The name ‘Reek Sunday’ comes from Patrick’s ability to Christianise many pagan customs including the festival of Lughnasa, which previously had heralded the start of the harvest festival honouring the ancient pagan god Lugh, whose name is encompassed in the Irish word for August: Lughnasa. This festival’s tradition became absorbed into the new Christian beliefs and locally become known as Domhnach na Cruaiche (Reek Sunday).
A virtual tour of the mountain, can be viewed on the website of the Archdiocese of Tuam www.tuamarchdiocese.org and the website of Westport parish www.westportparish.ie also contains additional information about the Holy Mountain.
Croagh Patrick is a physically demanding pilgrimage. Pilgrims who intend to make the climb are asked to follow the instructions of stewards. While it is a custom for some to make the climb barefoot, pilgrims should come prepared for changeable weather conditions, and are advised to bring suitable warm/waterproof clothing, good footwear, walking stick/staff and water, and to be mindful of the safety of themselves and others.
For those who can’t make the Reek Sunday pilgrimage, there is also a pilgrimage on the last Friday in July – Garland Friday. Mass is celebrated at 10.00am on the summit, with evening Mass celebrated at 8.00pm in Murrisk car park.
History was made on Reek Sunday 2008 when Archbishop Neary’s celebration of Mass was broadcast from the summit by RTÉ television and on the World Wide Web. On Reek Sunday 2005 Archbishop Neary unveiled a plaque to mark the centenary of Saint Patrick’s Oratory which is located on the summit of Croagh Patrick.
For more on this year’s pilgrimage see www.tuamarchdiocese.org and www.westportparish.ie.