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Mountains to Hike: Ireland’s Croagh Patrick

Looking for mountains to hike in Ireland? Why not try Croagh Patrick.

Croagh Patrick, a sacred mountain to hike near the town of Westport in County Mayo, Ireland doesn’t look like a difficult peak to climb from a distance. Even when you start up, it looks like it’ll be a snap. But appearances can be deceiving.

"Croagh Patrick"

Croagh Patrick – Photo credit: IrishFireside on Flickr

Croagh Patrick draws believers and adventurous hikers.

I belong in the adventurous hiker crowd. The believers are another lot altogether. They believe that if you walk to the top, preferably without the earthly encumbrances of socks and shoes, that sentences in purgatory will be reduced. This is done en masse on Reek Sunday, the last Sunday in July. Some years have seen upwards of 15,000 pilgrims. When I was there a few years ago on a raw May day I saw one fellow attempting it barefoot. No thanks.

Croagh Patrick is only 2,507 feet tall. The path is wide and the grade is reasonable for the first part of the walk. Then it steepens considerably and becomes a rock strewn path with uneven footing. At the summit a chapel has been erected. It is on the summit that Patrick is purported to have spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and in prayer back in 441 AD.

"Croagh Patrick hike"

The view would be amazing from Croagh Patrick on a clear day

Croagh Patrick is not a difficult mountain to climb. Kids and old people do it all the time.

But we had wind.

My husband and I were batted about like clothing hung out to dry in a gale once we were out of the shelter of the knoll. I hate giving up on a climb but when you’re doubled over head into the wind, with the temperature dropping, and the prospect of several hours of hiking like this, there isn’t much enjoyment to the exercise.

"Croagh Patrick"

Croagh Patrick

"Croagh Patrick"

Near the bottom of Croagh Patrick

We turned around and headed to the cafe we’d spied at the bottom. Disappointed but sometimes turning back is the smart thing to do. You might want to pop across the street at the end of your hike and visit the National Famine Monument – erected as a symbol to remember all the people who died trying to escape the potato famine back in 1845 – and a somber finish to the day.

"View of Croagh Patrick from the National Famine Mounment"

View of Croagh Patrick from the National Famine Mounment

Does Ireland’s Croagh Patrick sound like a mountain you’d like to hike?

Other blog posts from this trip you might enjoy:


Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

More posts by Leigh

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • I am not a huge mountain climber, but I do like to take the challenge occasionally. Putting this one on my list now.

  • Porrick says:

    Congratulations on the brave call to turn around.

  • Sean says:

    Hiked to the top during a wet and windy day, and the wind is considerably worse at the top. Many earned and unearned Guinness were enjoyed thereafter.

  • Theresa says:

    My cousin and I hiked croagh Patrick may of 2011. It was so windy, cold rain pelted us. My cousin went to the top but I stopped about 2/3rds of the way for fear of not being able to have the strength and stamina to get back down. On the way back down was worse because the rocks were so wet and they are lose and move under your feet. I was never so glad to finally come down to stable ground. We walked got 3 days up and down steps sideways in pain. I was glad I tried it.

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