Sinkhole causes church collapse on Croagh Patrick
A giant sinkhole has appeared on the peak of holy mountain, Croagh Patrick causing the church to collapse and disappear, The Mayo News can exclusively reveal. A section of the roof is the only part of the oratory, built by local men in 1905, that is now above ground and visible.
Experts say ‘a spate of sinkholes all over the country’ are the result of the recent extreme weather which has had catastrophic consequences along the west coast, leading to a whole herd of cattle vanishing on the Erris penninsula and a a holiday home near the village of Louisburgh disappearing without trace.
Emergency services were called to the holy mountain, whose pyramidal peak dominates the skyscape, shortly after 8am this morning (Monday) after a regular pilgrim made the dramatic discovery. Retired teacher, Mr Donnchadh Ó Móráin, from Dunfanaghy in County Donegal, said he normally climbs the 764-meter high mountain twice a month and that when he reached the summit around 7.30am it was – as is often the case – engulfed in rolling mists and he initially ‘didn’t notice the giant crater where the oratory used to be’.
“I was exhausted after the climb and stopped for a few minutes, looking out over Clew Bay, to catch my breath and rub moisturiser into my feet. I thought I was seeing things when I turned around and noticed the oratory had vanished into the ground. So naturally, I knelt down and said a prayer, just in case I was in the middle of some kind of miracle,” Mr Ó Morain told The Mayo News.
He continued: “But when it slowly dawned on me that this was real, I walked towards the spot where the roof of the church was jutting up and discovered a huge crater in which the oratory is now dangling perilously. All I can say is, Saint Patrick would turn in his grave, it is like an abyss.”
Mayo County Council personnel along with local community leaders, a representative of the Clergy as well as members of Mayo Mountain Rescue team were on the scene by lunchtime but such was the size of the sinkhole, they were left speechless, scratching their heads and looking into the hole.
“While we were very aware of the increased instances of sinkholes around the country because of the recent flooding and storms it is unprecedented for one to appear on the peak of a mountain. Recovery of the church hangs in the balance now but we will have more information in the coming days after geological experts assess the situation,” a spokesman for the county council said.
He confirmed, that despite budgetary constraints, the local authority hoped to engage an American Sinkholologist who headed up the famous case in Florida when in February 2013, 37-year-old Jeff Bush went to bed in the quiet residential suburb of east Tampa and disappeared down a sinkhole, sometime during the night.
When questioned, he denied that there would be any attempts to dig for gold, saying he had full faith that Minister of State, Michael Ring, would find the money for the operation somewhere.
A Fáilte Ireland spokesman said this was the second disaster to occur at a significant Discovery Point along the recently launched Wild Atlantic Way. In January a huge section of an iron-age promontory fort in Dingle, County Kerry, had been atop a cliff on Slea head since 500BC, toppled into the sea.
He challenged accusations by some sources that the huge amount of traffic by extreme sports enthusiasts up the steep sides of this ancient mountain had contributed to this natural disaster.
“Adventure sports athletes are always very light on their feet and barely hit the ground running, there is no way they have contributed to the cause of this chasmic crater,” the tourism body spokesman said.
However, a local priest said it was ‘a sign from himself upstairs’ that ‘all this exercising was over-rated’ and it was past time for lycra to be banned and for a comeback for sack-cloth and ashes.
THAT SINKING FEELING This aerial photograph of Croagh Patrick taken early yesterday morning clearly shows the sinkhole and the half-swallowed church.