Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, will lead the annual Reek Sunday Pilgrimage which will take place this weekend on Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick. The archbishop will be joined by Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe and by priests, religious and pilgrims for the pilgrimage which has been undertaken for almost 1500 years.
Croagh Patrick (2,510ft/765m), dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically. The pilgrimage is associated with Saint Patrick who, in 441, spent forty 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).
On the evening before, Saturday (27 July) at 6.30pm, Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass in Saint Mary’s Church, Westport, to mark the official beginning of this year’s pilgrimage.
During Reek Sunday, Mass will be celebrated every hour on the summit, beginning at 8.00am, with the final Mass commencing at 2.00pm. Father Stephen Farragher will celebrate Mass as Gaeilge at 10.00am. Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass at 11.00am and Bishop Fintan Monahan will celebrate Mass at 12.00noon.
Pilgrims may also avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) at the summit from 7.30am to 2.00pm.
Croagh Patrick is a physically demanding pilgrimage. Intending pilgrims should make themselves aware in advance of health and safety information about the mountain. Pilgrims should also heed the instructions of stewards, the mountain rescue teams, Order of Malta, and Gardaí. 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. See mountaineering.ie and http://www.mayomountainrescue.ie/news/132-press-release-reek-sunday-28th-july-2019 and information from Mayo Mountain Rescue on Reek Sunday.