Pilgrimage to Cruach Phádraig / Croagh Patrick
On the last Sunday in July, thousands of pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick (Ireland), a holy mountain 764 m high, in honour of Saint Patrick (apostle and primary patron saint of Ireland) who, according to tradition, fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441. Masses are held at the summit, where there is a small chapel.
From ancient times pilgrims have climbed the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance, a practice that still continues today. Some pilgrims carry out ’rounding rituals’, in which they pray while walking sunwise around features on the mountain. In the past, pilgrims carried stones as an act of penance, or to represent a prayer intention. This practice of carrying stones or rocks on a pilgrimage, can be seen in many ancient pilgrimage paths, the most notable being the Camino de Santiago.
Croagh Patrick comes from the Irish Cruach Phádraig meaning “(Saint) Patrick stack”. Fron the the Bronze Age that there is evidence of a landscape of religious importance with a great number of megalithic alignments in and around Croagh Patrick. Tradition says that Saint Patrick followed the Tóchar Phádraig, a pre-Christian causeway on his way to the mountains. The Tóchar is thought to be part of a pre-Christian pilgrimage, at least dating back to the Bronze Age, which was Christianised afterwards.
Cruach Phádraig is a case study of the IUCN Delos Initiative.