Everything You Need to Know About Croagh Patrick and Reek Week

Everything You Need to Know About Croagh Patrick and Reek Week

Every year, on the last Sunday of July, thousands of people climb Croagh Patrick mountain in Murrisk, Co. Mayo.

The popular spot is enjoyed by pilgrims, outdoor enthusiasts and tourists from Ireland and all over the world. In recognition of Reek Week and Reek Sunday, a day which saw 20,000 people climb the mountain in 2016, we’re sharing two local pilgrim trails and answering the most frequently asked questions about Ireland’s Holy Mountain.

Reek Week and Croagh Patrick: Your Questions Answered

What is Reek Week?

Reek Week is a week-long religious celebration that culminates with the annual pilgrimage climb of Croagh Patrick mountain on the last Sunday of July.

The name ‘Croagh Patrick’ comes from the Irish ‘Cruach Phádraig’, meaning Saint Patrick’s stack. ‘Rick’ or ‘Reek’ is a Hibernian English word for stack. Some sources reference Cruachain as meaning throne, seat or block.

Can I only climb Croagh Patrick on Reek Week?

You can climb Croagh Patrick any day of the week, anytime of the year but be careful of weather warnings and keep in mind the time that the sun will set.

Where is Croagh Patrick?

Croagh Patrick is located in Murrisk, Co. Mayo in the West of Ireland. The GPS Co-ordinates are 53.7599° N, 9.6598° W.

Why do people climb Croagh Patrick barefoot?

People climb Croagh Patrick barefoot as a sign of penance and atonement during the pilgrimage. The additional challenge of walking over the rocky surface without shoes is said to be good for the soul.

Is there a church on top of Croagh Patrick?

There is a permanent chapel located on top of Croagh Patrick, known as St Patrick’s Oratory. Masses are usually said every half hour between 8.00 am and 2pm on Reek Sunday. You can find other mass times for different dates here.

Winter view at Croagh Patrick from Westport Quay

How many people climb Croagh Patrick?

In 2016, 20,000 people climbed Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday. Estimates for the total number of climbers each year stands at 100,000.

What height is Croagh Patrick?

Croagh Patrick has an elevation of 764 metres or 0.47 miles high.

How does one pronounce the name of the mountain?

The word ‘Croagh’ is spoken as if it was the word ‘crow’ the bird. Sometimes locals refer to the mountain only as ‘The Reek’.

What is the weather like on Croagh Patrick?

The weather is extremely changeable on Croagh Patrick and climbers should check the weather forecast on the morning before they climb. While it is possible to climb the mountain in wet conditions, it is dangerous to climb when there is cloud cover and poor visibility or on days with high winds.

What hostels are near Croagh Patrick?

Croagh Patrick Hostel & Cottages in Murrisk, and The Old Mill Holiday Hostel in Westport are two nearby hostels. These are in high demand during the summer season, with many people opting to stay in B&Bs instead.  Croagh Patrick Camping & Caravan Park on the R398 and Westport House can both accommodate tent and caravan visitors.

How long does it take to climb Croagh Patrick?

It takes three hours and 30 minutes approximately, to complete an up and down climb of Croagh Patrick.

Croagh Patrick across Clew Bay

Is there a statue on top of Croagh Patrick?

There is a chapel, some signage and on certain days a man selling soft drinks at the top of the mountain. There is no statue. Artist Timothy Schmalz proposed to build and place a statue of St Patrick that was 100 feet high at the top of the mountain but the decision divided locals and the plan was abandoned.

There is a statue of St Patrick on ground level before you make the climb. It was erected in 1928 by Reverend Father Patterson with leftover funds from a church renovation in Westport.

Why is Croagh Patrick a pilgrimage?

Pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in recognition of St Patrick’s (the patron saint of Ireland) 40 day and 40 night stay on the mountain. It is also the historical site of pagan rituals that took place 5000 years ago.

What are the ‘Stations of the Reek’?

According to Catholic Ireland, the Stations of the Reek are places for reflection and prayers at certain stages of the mountain. The stages include:

  1. At the foot of the mountain.
  2. Along the path – a moment to catch your breath.
  3. At the ridge – a moment to rest.
  4. On the summit – a moment to bow your head.
  5. On the way down – a moment to let go.

What are some of the nearest areas to Croagh Patrick?

Westport, Leenaun, Louisburgh, Carrownisky and Murrisk are all near Croagh Patrick. Croagh Patrick is right beside the R335, making all of these locations accessible by road.

What supplies should I bring when I climb the mountain?

It’s a good idea to bring some food and water on the hike, but not so much as to weigh your backpack down. For example, each person could bring 2 x 500ml bottles of water, a sandwich or a wrap and a small snack, without impairing their ascent.

Croagh Patrick with Cemetery in foreground

What shoes should I wear when climbing Croagh Patrick?

Wear the footwear that is most comfortable for you and that gives you plenty of grip on wet and mucky surfaces. Although some people can climb the mountain barefoot, hiking boots are a safe bet, especially on days with wet and windy conditions.  Wellies are not advised as they can make the loose shale of the summit very difficult to manage.

What other pilgrim paths and pilgrim trails are there in Ireland?

There are a number of pilgrim paths and trails in Ireland. You can read Pilgrim Trails and Pilgrim Trails Part 2 on the OSi blog for more information.  Near Croagh Patrick there is also a sister trail, Tóchar Phádraig.

What is the name of the pub at the bottom of Croagh Patrick?

The pub at the bottom of Croagh Patrick is ‘Campbell’s At The Reek Pub’.

Where is the parking at Croagh Patrick?

There is a pay and display car park beside Campbell’s pub that is visible from the road. It is located off the R335.

What time is sunset on Croagh Patrick?

Sunset occurs at different times throughout the year near Croagh Patrick. You can check the time the sun goes down each day at this website. In late June and Early July the sun can often set after 10 pm.

What time is sunrise on Croagh Patrick?

Again, this will change throughout the year. You can check the time the sun goes down each day at this website.  In the summer months, walkers can enjoy a sunrise before 6 am.

Pilgrims on Croagh Patrick

Is Croagh Patrick an active volcano?

There are no records of volcanic activity having taken place on Croagh Patrick. However, some of the beautiful sunsets on Clew Bay can light up nearby clouds orange, pink and purple giving the mountain a fiery glow.

Is there an annual race to the top of Croagh Patrick?

There is a triathlon competition known as Sea 2 Summit that requires competitors to compete at road running, cycling and a mountain hike. The hike part requires competitors to race to the top of Croagh Patrick and back.

How far is Croagh Patrick from Galway?

Croagh Patrick is approximately 92.7 km by road from Galway. It is possible to get a Bus Éireann coach from Galway to Westport and then rent a bike or book a taxi to reach the mountain.

What sights are visible from the summit of Croagh Patrick?

From the summit of Croagh Patrick, walkers are given an unhindered 360-degree view of all the local areas. This includes the Clew Bay Peninsula and its 365 islands. The most recognisable is Clare Island which has a large hump on it.

Westport and Westport Quay are also visible from the summit. Achill and Mulranny are also visible on a clear day.

What are the best Croagh Patrick walking trails?

There are two fantastic walks that can be enjoyed by walkers of varying abilities in the area near Murrisk, Co. Mayo.  The more difficult hike is of course Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s Holy mountain. You can get to the start point by car, taxi or cycling.

The second is Tochar Phadraig, a path that connects Croagh Patrick to Ballintubber, a spot where St Patrick is said to have baptised people before beginning his journey to the mountain.

Other Helpful Information

Taxis from Westport

McGings Taxis


Westport Parish Website


Weather Forecast for Croagh Patrick


Local Hostels

Old Mill Hostel Westport


Croagh Patrick Hostel and Cottages


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