REEK SUNDAY MASS Fr John Kenny, PP from Partry/Tourmakeady parish, saying the first Mass on top of Croagh Patrick at 8am last Sunday morning. Pic: Finbarr Healy
WITH the extended Croagh Patrick Pilgrimage 2021 set to conclude this Saturday, July 31, Fr Charlie McDonnell has thanked all those involved in ensuring its success.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, organisers of the pilgrimage this year hosted Masses each week during the month from Wednesdays to Saturdays in a bid to fulfill the penitent practice of pilgrims whilst adhering to regulations around gatherings. The Reek Sunday pilgrimageusually attracts up to 30,000 people over the last weekend in July and particularly on the Sunday. Thanking all the priests, pilgrims and volunteers for their support for the month-long pilgrimage, Fr McDonnell, Administrator of Westport Parish, said: “The 2021 Croagh Patrick pilgrimage, which is operating differently this year, continues to work well. By spreading the pilgrimage out over the month, we have placed safety first and have given tremendous flexibility to pilgrims who wish to climb Ireland’s holy mountain.
“In previous years, the pilgrimage season has stretched from June to September and religious facilities were only afforded to pilgrims on the last Sunday of July, Reek Sunday. However, this year’s novel and adventurous departure has successfully broadened the availability of sacramental and other faith ministries provided by the Church, not only on the summit of Croagh Patrick, but also for the first time ever at the base of the mountain where Adoration and Confessions have been made available.”
He said he sincerely wished ‘to thank priests and pilgrims for all their support and cooperation in making the 2021 pilgrimage season a success to date’.
Noting that this is now the last week ‘for pilgrims to avail of what is being provided for this year’s pilgrimage, throughout Wednesday to Saturday’, he encouraged pilgrims ‘to plan their trip carefully from a personal safety perspective’.
This includes those who usually climb the mountain on Garland Friday, which is on July 30 this year and the traditional day for locals to do the pilgrimage.
All Masses throughout the pilgrimage have been limited to the numbers permitted for outdoor gatherings, which since July 5 have been capped at 200. July. For those who were unable to climb the precipitous mountain and avail of services at the summit, Confessions and Adoration are available in Murrisk Community Centre, located in the carpark.
Reek numbers down last weekend – Mayo Mountain Rescue
UNSURPRISINGLY, for Mayo Mountain Rescue Team (MMRT) numbers were way down last weekend, which would normally have been the busiest time of the year as the date for the Reek Sunday pilgrimage. Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, (Monday), Mike Keating of (MMRT), said: “We suspected this would be the case, but of course we could not be sure. As a result we made arrangements for a scaled down version of our normal ‘Reek Weekend’ event. This involved requesting the support of just two other teams rather than asking all teams for help. As always, we got great support from the Sligo/Leitrim and from Galway Mountain Rescue Teams,” Mr Keating said.
Whether it was the scorching weather conditions, it turned out that numbers were even lower than a normal summer Saturday last weekend. Meanwhile, there were some 1,500 people on the mountain on Sunday, July 25, which should have been Reek Sunday.
“As is so often the case, it was only when the teams returned to base that they were needed.
At about 4pm we received two separate callouts. One was from the Gardaí and one from the National Ambulance Service. The information we received on each call-out was similar, but we received two different contact numbers so we had to treat these as two separate call outs. It happens quite often that nothing happens for a long time and then we get two or three call-outs at the same time. Both call outs were about a male in his 50s who was struggling or had collapsed,” Keating explained. It turned out there was just one casualty. Ultimately, Rescue 118 from Sligo, which was returning from an operation in Donegal, was deployed to the incident and evacuated the casualty.
Whilst July has been a busy month for MMRT, part of that was due to continued training which had to be stopped during various pandemic lockdowns.
“We are expecting quite a lot of people to climb Croagh Patrick next weekend. The Sligo/Leitrim and Galway teams will be on standby to help if necessary, but are not planning to be here in Mayo unless we call them,” Mr Keating added.