The eyes of the nation will be on Croagh Patrick on April 2. On that day, the brave Charlie Bird will climb the iconic mountain to raise funds for Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and Pieta, Ireland’s national suicide-prevention charity. As many as is deemed safe will climb with him.
The attention will be – and should be – on Bird’s personal challenge as he takes on the mountain despite his MND diagnosis, as well as the charities that his efforts will support. No doubt media from all over the land will descend on Croagh Patrick to help bring a flavour of the event into the homes of all those who have been moved by Charlie’s plight and gesture.
How embarrassing, then, if alongside the sure-to-be-uplifting coverage of this joyous event a grubby side to our Reek were to be exposed.
A tourist to our county, Oliver Gleeson, was so repulsed by what he found recently on Croagh Patrick that he contacted The Mayo News.
His motive? That no one else should have to experience it. And having seen his photos, we at The Mayo News can see why.
“My wife and I are just back from a week-long break in Westport,” Mr Gleeson told us. “We had a wonderful time there. We both enjoy walking, and we managed to get some great hill walking in.”
So far so good. The experience echoes that of many who visit our fair county.
He continued: “The only disappointment for us occurred whilst climbing Croagh Patrick. The weather was good, and we had fabulous clear views over Clew Bay.
“Half way up the mountain we came upon the toilets with its sign encouraging climbers to use the facility.
“I can’t describe the disappointment I felt on entering, it was disgusting. There was filth everywhere.”
The photographs that accompany this article, sent in by Mr Gleeson, say it all. A neglected, grimy, broken-down, kicked-in, littered and vandalised hovel.
“If these toilets can’t be maintained they should be demolished,” Mr Gleeson said.
Immediate action needed
The visitor continued: “I know there is a big charity climb coming up, which I expect will attract many visitors. That is the reason I am bringing it to your attention.
“I hope you can help do something about [the toilets]. I do not want anyone else to get the sense of shame and shock I got on entering them.”
Mr Gleeson also asked: “How could this be allowed to happen on this sacred mountain which attracts thousands of visitors every year?”
How indeed. How could such a basic amenity be so overlooked? With all the taxpayer euros being pumped into promoting what is arguably the county’s biggest tourism draw? After all the investment being put into a new pilgrim path? With all the pride that Mayo people take in having a world-renowned pilgrimage site on their shore?
Sadly, it seems that on Croagh Patrick, uncleanliness is next to – indeed, right on top of – godliness.