Westport Town, County Mayo
There is a real swan in there with the swan boats.
Known in Irish Celtic as Cruach Phádraig and colloquially as "the Reek," Mt. Croagh Patrick has been a sacred site since ancient times. Before the arrival of Christianity, the Celtic people regarded the mountain as the dwelling place of the deity Crom Dubh.
The mountain was the focus of the harvest festival of Lughnasa, traditionally held around August 1. The sacred mountain was especially important for women, who would sleep on the summit during Lughnasa to encourage fertility.
Neolithic art can still be seen on a rock outcropping known as "St. Patrick's Chair" along the path to the top, and a Celtic hill fort was recently uncovered at the base of the mountain.
According to Christian tradition, St. Patrick went up the sacred mountain at festival time in 441 AD. After fasting at the summit for 40 days, he banished all the snakes and demons from Ireland.
The site quickly became an important place of Christian pilgrimage. A stone oratory dating to between 430 and 890 AD was recently discovered on the summit.
Mt. Croagh Patrick is the most important Catholic pilgrimage destination in Ireland. Nearly one million visitors, most of them pilgrims, climb to the top every year. Almost 30,000 pilgrims make the trek on the last Sunday in July, known as "Reek Sunday."
For most Catholics who visit Mt. Croagh Patrick, especially on Reek Sunday, the pilgrimage to the top of the sacred mountain is an act of penance. Accordingly, some untake the journey barefoot or even on their knees. The summit has a small chapel where Mass is held each day.
The full pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. The first main sight on the pilgrimage path is a statue of St. Patrick, erected in 1928 by a Westport pastor. Although it is not one of the official stations it has become a place of prayer and makes a good goal for those not able to climb all the way to the top.