Monday, August 5, 2019

Irish Adventure - Croagh Patrick

5th Aug 2019

On the 28th May we climbed "Ireland's Holy Mountain" - Croagh Patrick. And yes, we got to the top, which was no mean feat. It was one of the must do's I had on my list on our recent trip to the Emerald Isle, along with visit an uncle in Mallow and a writer in Innishannon, travel the Wild Atlantic Way and make a pilgrimage to Knock before the end of May.
We managed all this and more. 
It was while we were in Knock that we decided we might give the Holy Mountain a go, as we weren't that far away.
Well rested after having camped for two nights at the Shrine ( mostly we did wild camping to keep the costs down), and after a breakfast of bacon and eggs, we left the campsite and parked down by the Basilica to go to Holy Mass.
My favourite place at the Shrine is the Apparition Chapel,  where a larger than life  vision of Our Mother with St Joseph and St John are represented . I don't know what I expected from the Pilgrimage, but apart from our own prayers that we came with we were blessed with so much peace, which was only reinforced as we started to hear the story .
The priest in confession told me he likes to reflect that Mary, who spoke no words to the visionaries, is to him, Our Lady of Silence. That each one takes away their own message. I liked that and it was certainly true for us.
I really felt that our going to Knock was a particular call from Our Heavenly Mother, and  that we left having been given many graces and blessings
One day I will return.

Now we were ready to be off, but not before we filled up with petrol. Oh dear, a problem, our travelcard wouldn't work. Panic! As I searched manically for my purse, my heart rate rising , I said  a quiet prayer that I had enough cash on me.  Amazingly, as I'm not in the habit of carry much money on me,  I did - just.  My shoulders relaxed as the immediate tension was over, but why didn't the card work and what would we do without it?
Hubby  thought it could've been affected magnetically because it was  next to his phone in his pocket. 
We returned to  the campsite where we knew we'd  be able  to get wi-fi,  so he could try and get into the account to see what was up.
Half an hour later, frustrated and anxious after many failed attempts to speak to someone , finally he got into the account. Apparently, all the systems were down and it was nothing to do with us after all.
Well, that was good news.
However, to make sure it was working we called in at a little shop to get some Rosary Beads for two grandchildren making their First Holy Communion this year. It was a good call, as I hadn't been organised enough to get them before and to have them from the Shrine would be really special.

At last we are headed  for Westport, a beautiful little town and the nearest one to Croagh Patrick.
To be as ready as possible for the challenge, which we're not sure we're totally up for, we decide we will stay on a campsite. That way we can shower,  relax, have the top up ( we don't do that when we're incognito) and not worry whether we might be moved on.  

The next morning was a perfect day for the climb. Not much wind and clear skies, although a chap at the campsite had done it the day before put us off a little by  telling  us how difficult even he, a seasoned mountaineer had found it . We shouldn't even try he said unless we were used to mountains.
Well, we're not.
 It didn't help, that when we turned up at the bottom of the mountain there were mountain rescue teams - there all the time it seems, for fools who think they can do more than they actually can.
We stood looking up, in our walking boots, supplies of drink and rainproof gear in our rucksacks and decided that we'd give it a go. I mean, we were here now.
It's not that it's the highest mountain, it's more that the sharp rocks and shale, and the steep inclines are relentless.
The last part is the steepest and for some of that I literally crawled on hands and knees, thinking I could easily fall off the blessed mountain.
What on earth were we doing, I thought , as legs, arms , back, head all ached and I realised that we had to make it down too!
From the top, which when we got there, felt really amazing, you can see  354 islands  in Clew Bay. Well, let me tell you, I never counted them.
Coming down was as bad as going up . No wonder Christians used it for penance. We definitely suffered. Two people were carried off the mountain by helicopter the day we did it.
And , you know what, it could of been us.
It was hell of a climb.
We were too tired to even cook a bit of dinner , only having fresh bread with butter and jam . We parked up for the night around 7.00 pm , looking out to sea, so glad we'd achieved our goal.