|Elevation||764 m (2,507 ft)|
|Prominence||640 m (2,100 ft)|
|Translation||(Saint) Patrick's stack (Irish)|
|Location||County Mayo, Republic of Ireland|
|Topo map||OSi Discovery 30, 31, 37 or 38|
Croagh Patrick (Irish: Cruach Phádraig), nicknamed the Reek, is a 764 metres (2,507 ft) mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. It is 8 kilometres (5 mi) from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. It is the third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin. On "Reek Sunday", the last Sunday in July every year, over 15,000 pilgrims climb it. It forms the southern part of a U-shaped valley created by a glacier flowing into Clew Bay in the last Ice Age. Croagh Patrick is part of a longer east-west ridge; the westernmost peak is called Ben Gorm.
Croagh Patrick comes from the Irish Cruach Phádraig meaning "(Saint) Patrick's stack". It is known locally as "the Reek", a Hiberno-English word for a "rick" or "stack". In pagan times it was known as Cruachán Aigle, being mentioned by that name in sources such as Cath Maige Tuired, Buile Shuibhne, The Metrical Dindshenchas, and the Annals of Ulster entry for the year 1113. Cruachán is simply a diminutive of cruach "stack", but it is not certain what Aigle means. It is either from the Latin loan aquila "eagle" (more usually aicile or acaile) or a person's name. In addition to its literal meaning, cruach in the pagan name may also have some connection with Crom Cruach.
The Marquess of Sligo, whose seat is nearby Westport House, bears the titles Baron Mount Eagle and Earl of Altamont, both deriving from alternative names (Cruachán Aigle; high mount) for Croagh Patrick.
Croagh Patrick has been a site of pilgrimage, especially at the summer solstice, since before the arrival of Celtic Christianity. Saint Patrick reputedly fasted on the summit of Croagh Patrick for forty days in the fifth century and built a church there. Popular legend says that at the end of Patrick's 40-day fast, he threw a silver bell down the side of the hill, knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.
A Civil Defence survey conducted on 30 July 2006 indicated that there were approximately 15,000 pilgrims in 2006, fewer than in previous years, but heavy rain early that morning had been a deterrent. Two-thirds of the pilgrims in 2006 were male. They included participants from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, India, Hungary and Canada. There were 3,500 first-time climbers.
On "Reek Sunday" (the last Sunday in July) emergency medical and rescue cover for pilgrams is provided by the Civil Defence, Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, and Mayo Mountain Rescue Team assisted by 12 other voluntary Mountain Rescue teams that are represented by the group Mountain Rescue Ireland, the Irish Air Corps providing helicopter support for casualty evacuations to hospital or to the emergency services in two locations at the base of the hill.
While barefoot trekking is now discouraged, many Reek Sunday participants climb Croagh Patrick barefoot (and, among men, sometimes shirtless). Hypothermia is a concern for many climbers, especially if the weather is bad. As a result, the trip can be dangerous at times for many of the climbers and, while deaths are infrequent, there have been recorded incidents where people have been badly injured during the climb because of the steep scree slope to the summit and the poor footing.
The chapel at the summit 
In modern times, a small chapel was built on the summit, and dedicated on 20 July 1905. During the pilgrimage on 31 July 2005, a plaque commemorating the centenary of the building and dedication of the chapel was unveiled by Most Rev. Michael Neary, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam.
Having celebrated the centenary of the building of the church on the summit, it was decided in 2005 to open the church every day during the summer, rather than only on holy days. Mass is celebrated in the church on Reek Sunday and on 15 August. The church is opened by information guides.
Gold discovery 
A seam of gold was discovered in the hill in the 1980s: overall grades of 14 grams (0.45 ozt) of gold per tonne in at least 12 quartz veins, which could produce 700,000 t (770,000 short tons) of ore — potentially over 300,000 troy oz of gold (worth over €360m). Mayo County Council elected not to allow mining.
view from Westport
See also 
- Shiel, Tom; Cunningham, Grainne (26 November 2011). "Gardai in plea to identify dead 'Reek' pilgrim". Irish Independent.
- New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, CD edition 1997, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1973, 1993, 1996.
- CELT: The Second Battle of Moytura (translation) - Irish
- CELT: Buile Shuibhne (translation) - Irish (Cruachán Oighle)
- CELT: The Metrical Dindshenchas, 88 Cruachán Aigle (translation) - Irish
- CELT: Annals of Ulster 1113 (translation) - Irish
- Entry for aicil at eDIL
- Old-Irish-L: Cruachan Aigle 31 Jul 2002
- George Edward Cokayne ed. Vicary Gibbs, The Complete Peerage, volume I (1910) p. 113.
- "In imitation of the great Jewish legislator on Sinai, he spent forty days on its summit in fasting and prayer, and other penitential exercises." Catholic Encyclopedia
- Liam Horan (7 August 2006). "Survey charts future of Croagh Patrick". The Irish Times.
- Tom Shiel, "Croagh Patrick climbers urged not to go barefoot on pilgrimage", Irish Times, 23 July 2009.
- Morahan, Leo (2001). Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo: archaeology, landscape and people. Westport: Croagh Patrick Archaeological Committee. Unknown parameter
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