The annual Reek Sunday Pilgrimage will take place this weekend on Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick led by Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam.
The bishops’ ascent will start at 7.00am on Sunday morning with Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam; Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe, leading priests and pilgrims from across Ireland.
Croagh Patrick (2,510ft/765m), Ireland’s holy mountain, dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically. The pilgrimage is associated with Saint Patrick who, in 441, spent forty 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).
The Croagh Patrick pilgrimage has been undertaken for over 1500 years.
On the evening before, Saturday (27 July) at 6.30pm, Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass in Saint Mary’s Church, Westport, to mark the official beginning of this year’s pilgrimage.
During Reek Sunday, Mass will be celebrated every hour on the summit, beginning at 8.00am, with the final Mass commencing at 2.00pm.
Father Stephen Farragher will celebrate Mass as Gaeilge at 10.00am. Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass at 11.00am. Bishop Fintan Monahan will celebrate Mass at 12.00noon.
Sacrament of Reconciliation
Pilgrims may also avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) at the summit from 7.30am to 2.00pm.
All priests wishing to celebrate the Sacraments must produce a valid Celebret. See schedule below.
Garland Friday 26 July
10:00am Mass at the summit of Croagh Patrick
7:30pm Mass at the base of Croagh Patrick in the car park at Murrisk Community Café
Saturday 27 July
6:30pm Mass for Eve of Pilgrimage will take place in Saint Mary’s Church, South Mall, Westport and the celebrant will be Archbishop Neary.
Sunday 28 July
7:30am – 2:00pm Confessions on the summit of Croagh Patrick.
8:00am First hourly Mass on the summit
8:30am Tóchar Phádraig commences at Ballintubber Abbey
10:00am Aifreann as Gaeilge celebrated by Father Stephen Farragher
11:00am Mass celebrated by Archbishop Neary
12.00 noon Mass celebrated by Bishop Fintan Monahan
2:00pm Last hourly Mass on the summit
Masses in local churches on Reek Sunday
10:00am Mass in Westport church
11:30am Mass in Lecanvey church
12:00pm Mass in Westport church
On the last Sunday in July, thousands of pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick in honour of Saint Patrick 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. Some climb the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance, and carry out ’rounding rituals’, in which they pray while walking sunwise around features on the mountain.