A St Patrick’s Day climb up Croagh Patrick

While travel is still off-limits, David Atkinson reminisces about a St Patrick’s Day pilgrimage to remember in Ireland

Saturday 20 March 2021 22:53 GMT
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Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick

St Patrick’s Day will look pretty different this year. The traditional street parades have been cancelled, the famous Irish craic will be streaming via YouTube and there’s currently a 5km travel limit in place across Ireland.

But Ged Dowling is still hoping to make his annual pilgrimage in the footsteps of the spiritual leader whose saint’s day we celebrate each year on 17 March. “If restrictions allow, I’ll hike up Croagh Patrick and take my own can of Guinness to crack open once I’m back down,” smiles Ged, who leads walking and stargazing tours along Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast.

Last year, I joined Ged to climb Croagh Patrick, the holy Irish mountain towering over County Mayo. I wanted to find out why some 120,000 people hike the treacherous trail to the summit each year, and to learn more about the man behind the folklore-shrouded myth of St Patrick with which it is so closely associated.

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