herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

I've climbed Croagh Patrick with a five-year-old, but not in a rain storm. . .

Back in the early '90s I climbed Croagh Patrick with my wife and five children. My youngest, Brian, was five at the time.

We were holidaying in Ballina when we decided we would climb the holy mountain.

It was a glorious sunny morning in July. We completed the climb without mishap.

However, even though it was a perfect day on the mountain, we did experience a few scary moments. There's no doubt that Croagh Patrick, in places and in certain weather conditions, can be dangerous for hikers.

I was, therefore, amazed that last Sunday - the traditional annual day of climbing the mountain - hundreds of people ignored official warnings about the awful weather and hiked up regardless.

perilous The climb was officially called off. Despite this, hundreds of foolhardy pilgrims ignored all the warnings.

There was heavy rain and gale force winds, which made the route perilous, with a real risk of serious injury or worse to climbers.

I cannot understand the mentality of those foolish people who risked their lives on the mountain despite the warnings from the gardai, the local clergy and the emergency services.

A little girl of three years was one of 12 people who had to be taken off the mountain as a result of the appalling conditions. The child was suffering from hypothermia.

The real miracle last Sunday was that none of the misguided pilgrims who risked their lives, the lives of their children and rescue crews, were killed or seriously injured. We can only thank God and St Patrick for that.

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