Sunday, August 16, 2009

Croagh Patrick

Yesterday I climbed 764m to the top of Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo - it's at the centre of the Google Maps satellite image below.

Since I first went to the West around 1981 I have been fascinated with Croagh Patrick. Several years ago I got about half way with the girls - but often promised myself that I would go all the way at the first opportunity. This weekend Roma, Kate, Vicki, and I went to Castlebar for the anniversary mass for my parents-in-law Billy and Mary Rose Bourke. I seized the opportunity to go to Croagh Patrick and fulfill a long term ambition to climb to the top. I set out at 1320 and made it to the top in 1 hour and 40 minutes. I was surprised at how busy it was, but glad that there were lots of other people there too. Unfortunately a 47 year old man died a couple of hours before I made the climb - he had become ill after reaching the top. As I arrived in the car park below the mountain I saw a rescue helicopter flying away from the top - little did I know that it was an emergency.

I'm astonished that anyone would attempt this climb in bare feet as happens on Reek Sunday at the end of July - the rocks, stones, and gravel made me really glad that I had a pair of sturdy boots. Though my thighs in particular today are sore, it was well worth the effort to go to the top. The picture to the right just about summarizes how I felt after reaching the top - I was tired with the effort, but exhilarated. There was cloud at the very top, but about 50m down the sky was clear to reveal spectacular views over Clew Bay.

Near the bottom I started to think about a well deserved pint of cider to cool down, and by the time I got to Campbells Bar at the foot of the mountain I would have paid whatever they asked - such was my thirst. Sadly they did not have any cider (weirdos!) but a pint of Heino was just as welcome. A pleasant end to a satisfying day.

There is a lot of time to think when you climb a mountain - I have some thoughts which I plan to post as a Reflection at a later date.

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