Croagh Patrick

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An isolated peak rising from the shore beside Clew Bay, five miles from Westport, Mayo County, West Ireland. It has long been known as Cruach Phádraig (St. Patrick's Ridge), and in St. patrick's day was called

Cruachan Aigli. Tírechín (late 7th century) reports that Patrick fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights on the peak, after the example of Moses and Christ, and was comforted in seeing as the fruit of his labors all the saints of Ireland to the end of time, so numerous that they obscured the sky from view. The report is elaborated in the 10th-century Tripartite Life of St. Patrick. Croagh Patrick from an early date was a place of pilgrimage, originally for the feast of St. Patrick; but because of wind, rain, and cold, the date was changed to the last Sunday of July. In the days of the penal laws, when Catholics had to hold divine services in secret, the pilgrimage to the bare mountain top flourished. Modern transportation has brought many pilgrims. The pilgrim path begins at 1,000 feet and covers 1,500 feet of stony terrain to the summit, where an oratory was built in 1905.

Bibliography: Liber Ardmachanus: The Book of Armagh, ed. j. gwynn (Dublin 1913). w. stokes, ed. and tr., The Tripartite Life of Patrick, 2 v. (Rerum Brittanicarum medii aevi scriptores 89;1887). j. b. bury, The Life of St. Patrick (New York 1905). j. healy, The Life and Writings of St. Patrick (Dublin 1905). o'madden, Cruach Phádraig, St. Patrick's Holy Mountain (Dublin 1929).

[j. ryan]