herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Hundreds ignore safety warnings and climb Croagh Patrick

Pilgrimage

Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick

Hundreds of pilgrims ignored safety warnings to climb Croagh Patrick despite poor visibility and strong winds.

Up to 20,000 people were expected to make the traditional pilgrimage, but adverse weather conditions saw it officially cancelled.

However, it failed to deter hundreds of people who had already made the journey to Co Mayo.

Croagh Patrick is considered the country's holiest mountain, and the pilgrimage has been carried out uninterrupted for more than 1,500 years.

Despite repeated warnings not to proceed with the climb, a steady stream of people continued with their annual trek, including families with young children.

Rescue teams said they would be unable to properly assist those who got into difficulty because of the dangerous conditions.

Masses

Part of the temporary structure erected for masses on the top of the mountain was blown away, as was Mayo Mountain Rescue's medical tent.

The pilgrimage was cancelled at 7am yesterday, with masses moved to the nearby St Patrick's Church in Lecanvey.

Dymphna and Paschal Mannley and their two children, Oisin (10) and Blaithin (8), travelled from Fermanagh for the trek. Despite the warnings, they chose to continue.

"We were advised about health and safety, but you have to be careful, good day or bad day. We're going to keep going and hope for the best," said Dymphna.

Paddy Smyth, from Co Offaly, braved the trek back down the mountain in his bare feet. He started off with his wife, Catherine, but she turned back.

"People were saying not to go, but I felt I'd know myself if I was in danger, and if so I'd opt out," said Paddy. "My wife recently had surgery, so the conditions weren't good for her."

Sean Clenaghan and his nine-year-old son, Eoin, from Craigavon, Co Armagh, also undertook the climb, but turned back because of the weather.

"I've done it three or four times and Eoin did it last year. When we got to the ridge it was too windy to keep going. I wasn't going to risk it," said Sean.

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