REEK REGULARS Pictured are the 12 volunteers who have been appointed as ambassadors on Croagh Patrick.
THE Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group recently officially launched the Croagh Patrick Ambassador Programme, in collaboration with Mayo County Council and Leave No Trace Ireland. The aim of the programme is to increase public awareness of the importance of care and respect for our natural heritage, to empower positive behavioural change and develop skills around outdoor recreation so that locals and visitors can continue to enjoy and protect Croagh Patrick and its surrounds.
Twelve official Croagh Patrick Ambassadors were recruited as volunteers and are tasked with engaging with visitors on the mountain. The volunteers have completed their bespoke Ambassador Training Programme and will now commence their duties on the mountain.
Cathleen Fergus, one of the newly recruited ambassadors, spoke of her motivation to join the programme and volunteer on Croagh Patrick: “Many people have always held Croagh Patrick close to their hearts. It’s of huge cultural, religious, and recreational significance for people. More and more in recent years people have reconnected with nature and with the outdoors, understanding the importance of both their physical and emotional wellbeing. Since coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic there has been huge increases in the number of people getting outdoors and visiting Croagh Patrick, some for the first time. Of course, from our perspective we want as many people to come as possible, but we just want to make sure that they do so in a safe and sustainable way.”
Preserving the mountain
Their training provided guidance on the most effective means for the volunteers to engage with visitors, application of Leave No Trace Principles and an understanding of the Sustainable Access and Habitat Restoration Project underway. This training will enable the Ambassadors to ensure that visitors to Croagh Patrick appreciate the importance of preserving the mountain’s distinct natural, cultural, and religious heritage through sustainable use.
Martin Keating, Chairperson of Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group, stated:
“The Volunteer Croagh Patrick Ambassadors will be invaluable in the contribution to sustainable access to Croagh Patrick. They will directly contribute to providing a high-quality experience for all visitors, sharing their local knowledge, and will help to ensure that the achievements of the Sustainable Access and Habitat Restoration Project will be sustained into the future.”
Maura Kiely, CEO of Leave No Trace Ireland, added: “We want to ensure that Croagh Patrick continues to be a healthy, vibrant upland location, and for all to continue to access and enjoy it in a sustainable way. By working together, we can ensure direct habitat protection, create increased awareness, appreciation, and stewardship of the wonderful natural environment of Croagh Patrick. We congratulate the Ambassadors on completing their training and look forward to supporting them in their stewardship of Croagh Patrick.”
The programme was funded through the Heritage Council’s Stewardship Fund and Mayo County Council. It is coordinated by The Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group and Leave No Trace Ireland. The volunteers have commenced their stewardship of Croagh Patrick and will be present on the mountain during peak times throughout the year.