AGE NO BARRIER Rosaleen Gartland, from Banbridge, Co Down, 85-years young, smiling at the summit of Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday.?Pic: Conor McKeown
Numbers down for Reek Sunday
Up to 20,000 pilgrims braved the misty peaks of Croagh Patrick on Sunday for the annual Reek Sunday climb that once again saw a number of injuries to pilgrims.
A combination of the bank holiday weekend, the Mayo/Cork match and foreign holidays meant a quiet Reek Sunday with numbers down on previous years according to mountain rescue personal.
“We started our day at 5.30am and finished at about 7pm on Sunday evening,” said Eamonn Berry of the local Order of Malta. “We dealt with 24 patients over the course of the day, 12 needed to be carried off the mountain while three had to be brought to Mayo General Hospital. We had 125 personal working in the area making up six stretcher teams and worked in conjunction with Mayo Mountain Rescue.
“Two of the patients had fractured bones while, unfortunately, we had to treat one man for an assault that took place at the bottom of the mountain.
“The number of people seemed to be down this year from all accounts. I think it was due to a combination of the match, it being a bank holiday and people on holidays. Everyone knows that it is very much a local pilgrimage,” Mr Berry concluded.
Conditions were poor on the holy mountain for the thousands who attempted the religious pilgrimage with rain spells and mist dampening the occasion.
Although it is not recommended to climb the mountain when the top is not visible from the bottom, Mayo Mountain Rescue estimated up to 20,000 people attempted to scale the mountain on what is their busiest day of the year.
The litter problem that marred the pilgrimage last year was tackled by volunteers who scaled the mountain with bin bags gathering all litter discarded on the path while a handful of enthusiastic Mayo GAA supports made the pilgrimage to the peak before setting off to Dublin for the 4pm kickoff between Mayo and Cork in the All-Ireland football quarter finals.
The cone of the mountain remained a danger area this year with most injuries occurring on the steepest section of the mountain.
Matt Loughrey, the Murrisk man who climbed the Reek for 365 consecutive days, was unable to make the pilgrimage up the mountain this year after sustaining an injury.
“It was a shame I missed it this year, I missed out on all the action. From talking to the car park staff it seems as if the numbers were down this year. I haven’t climbed it since the 24 hour challenge but I’m looking forward to go up again when I get better,” Matt told The Mayo News.
Mayo Mountain Rescue is a voluntary organisation which provides a 24 hour service to the Mayo area and can be reached by calling 999 or 112 and requesting them in an emergency.
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Numbers down for Reek Sunday
Man (21) assaulted at foot of Reek