National Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick Sunday 26 July 2009 (Reek Sunday)
Theme of pilgrimage: Hope
The annual national pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick will take place this year on Sunday 26 July (Reek Sunday). The pilgrimage will be led by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Neary. Media organisations are invited to send representatives to the following events associated with this year’s Croagh Patrick pilgrimage:
- Saturday 25 July at 7:30pm: Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass in St Mary's Church, Westport, Co Mayo.
- Reek Sunday 26 July at 7:00am: Archbishop Neary will start the pilgrimage climb from the car park in the village of Murrisk, which is about eight kilometres from Westport on the Louisburgh road.
- Reek Sunday 26 July at 10:30am: Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass at the summit of Croagh Patrick.
The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is hope. Commenting on this theme Archbishop Neary said: “We have chosen hope as the theme of our pilgrimage this year. Our faith tells us that hope and light in this time of fear and uncertainty are possible because Jesus is always with us in our times of need”.
Notes to editors
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).
This pilgrimage has been carried out uninterrupted for over 1500 years. Croagh Patrick has over 100,000 visitors annually with up 20,000 people expected this weekend.
Last year an estimated 20,000 pilgrims climbed Croagh Patrick. For the first time in the history of the Reek, Mass was televised live from the summit and broadcast on RTÉ television and on the world-wide web.
For Reek Sunday 2006, Archbishop Neary and other pilgrims were accompanied by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. As successor to St Patrick, Cardinal Brady was the first Archbishop of Armagh to climb the Holy Mountain since St Patrick. In 2005, Archbishop Neary unveiled a plaque to mark the centenary of St Patrick's Oratory on the summit.
Mass will be celebrated at the summit at 8.00am and every half-hour thereafter until the last Mass at 2.00 pm. The 10.00am Mass will be celebrated in Irish, and Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass at 10.30am. Pilgrims may avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the summit from 7.30am to 2.30pm.
All those who intend to climb are asked to come prepared for the current cool weather conditions, to bring suitable warm/waterproof clothing, good footwear, a walking stick/staff and water, and to be mindful of the safety of themselves and other pilgrims.
People who are unable to make the pilgrimage may wish to send their petitions to Fr Denis Carney, The Presbytery, Westport, Co Mayo. These intentions will be included in the 11.00am Mass and burned afterwards
Archbishop Neary’s homily for Reek Sunday will be made available under embargo later in the week.
Further information on Croagh Patrick, and a virtual tour of the mountain, can be viewed on the website of the Archdiocese of Tuam www.tuamarchdiocese.org
for a special feature on Reek Sunday, including highlights from last year’s RTE television broadcast, and an audio interview with Archbishop Neary about Croagh Patrick