New procedures are being put in place for Reek Sunday this year so that people can continue to enjoy the annual pilgrimage while keeping safety as a priority.
The traditional Reek Sunday pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick on July 30 is expected to attract tens of thousands of pilgrims once again this year, with many making the climb in their bare feet.
Fr Charlie McDonnell, administrator of Westport parish, said organisers have decided to reduce the number of Masses at the summit this year, but other Masses are being introduced further down the mountain “to encourage people that if they are not able to climb, not to put themselves under pressure”.
“Mass has gone from every half hour to every hour. We have extra Masses on the ground and we’re encouraging people to come to those as well,” Fr McDonnell told The Irish Catholic. “For example on Sunday morning we are having an extra Mass in the local church so people could go to 8.30am Mass there rather than put themselves under pressure to get to the top for Mass. We don’t usually have Mass on Saturday, but this year we will have a Mass on Saturday morning at the statue of St Patrick for people on their way up.”
Fr McDonnell said the changes in Mass times were aimed at “spreading the numbers out over the weekend and to take a little pressure off the summit”.
“We are part of a working group at the moment that is looking at how we look after Croagh Patrick best and as part of that we are looking at bringing out the experience.
“There are three Masses on the mountain this week for example and the church is opened all the time for the month of July and August, so we are trying to spread the experience out so people can go on a quieter day,” he said.