Call for Catholics to keep Croagh Patrick spirit alive

Call for Catholics to keep Croagh Patrick spirit alive Pilgrims climb the rocky mountainside of Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo. Photo: Stephen Farragher

The priest in charge of Croagh Patrick has appealed to Catholics to push for its preservation as a place of pilgrimage and contact Mayo County Council.

After almost 9,000 pilgrims summited Croagh Patrick over the weekend, the mountain’s stakeholders are calling on all members of the public to make submissions to the council regarding plans to renovate the mountain.

Fr Charlie McDonnell, administrator of Westport parish, said that he welcomes everyone to make their voices heard, but “particularly” those who want it to continue being an important holy site.

Speaking to The Irish Catholic he said: “Ultimately this is about the mountain, this is about the care of the mountain. This is about corporate responsibility to ensure that the mountain is preserved for future generations and that basically it’s restored to where it needs to be.

“There are many different stakeholders in the mountain, my priority is Croagh Patrick as a place of pilgrimage. That’s the corner I have to fight for and basically I welcome all submissions, but particularly from those who are of a Catholic background who see it as a place of pilgrimage.”

The Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group, established in 2015, have already built a 20-metre path in a trial run and have begun the evaluation process into a more substantial trail leading up the mountain.

The trial path is two metres wide with steps and landings created using local stone from the mountain. It aims to halt further erosion and make the trek safer for Croagh Patrick’s 100,000 people who climb it each year.

Fr McDonnell added: “My responsibility towards Croagh Patrick is number one: towards the mountain itself so its preserved, my title is custodian of the mountain, and then my responsibility ultimately is towards the pilgrimage – that’s where I’m coming from.”

Regarding plans for the mountain on the Mayo County Council website, under the heading ‘Nature and extent of proposed development’, it describes “Sustainable access works to include aggregate and stone pitched paths, path drainage consisting of culverts, cross drains and water bars, fencing for managing access during construction work together with habitat restoration of eroded areas.”

The stakeholders group includes representatives of the Church along with Mayo County Council, Mountain shareholders, Mountaineering Ireland, Mayo Mountain Rescue, South West Mayo Development Company and more.

Electronic submissions can be made at www.mayococo.ie/en/planning/or in writing to: John McMyler, Senior Planner, Mayo County Council, Aras an Chontae, The Mall, Castlebar no later than 5pm on September 24.