I don’t enjoy mountain climbing, but I enjoy having climbed a mountain. As my dad always says, the joy in mountain climbing is retrospective. But somehow I seem to forget that notion and when someone suggests some ludicrous day-long hike I’m the first to put my hand up and go along. So when we had a free day last week, we decided to set an early alarm clock, drive nearly four hours to the west coast of Ireland and climb Croagh Patrick – St. Patrick’s sacred mountain.
As a bit of background info, the mountain’s history as a place of worship dates back as far as 3,000 BC and its popularity among religious pilgrims dates to the time of St. Patrick, who is said to have completed a forty-day ritual of fasting and penance on top of the mountain. Fast forward to the present day and people still complete the four-hour return climb with bare feet, or even on their hands and knees. Something to do with showing their faith, I believe. I try never to be disrespectful of other people’s beliefs, but I did have to laugh when we were scolded by two older climbers after they pointed out the nice little pile of rocks we chose to sit on and have our lunch was actually some kind of religious shrine. Oops.
On top of the mountain is a chapel and beautiful views of the bay. Look at how happy I am.
It was an interesting experience and looking back, I’m glad I did it. I have endeavoured to actually see some sights and experience new things in Ireland this time around, seeing as I grew up here and usually spend most of the times I visit in the pub or at the homes of various family members. It really is such a beautiful country.