This past weekend Mark and I went to County Mayo to stay at the cottage of his cousin and her husband. All I knew about it was that it was in the country 4 hours away by train. What I didn't know was that their cottage rests at the foot of Croagh Patrick, which is this famous Irish landmark -- a "mountain" (though probably not technically a mountain) that thousands of people climb each year to pay homage to St. Patrick: "The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland's patron saint. It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and the custom has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation." It's just over 2500 feet, and the path is pretty rough terrain at times! But the views were gorgeous, and afterward I felt like a million dollars. Here are the photos (sorry, they're going to be big!)
First off, their house. Here's the waterfall about ten feet from their house that you walk over up their walkway:
Said walkway, from the house:
This is their bunny, Barry, named after Obama:
View down the hill from the cottage:
There is a statue of Saint Patrick at the beginning of the trail to mark the spot:
The view when we were just starting the climb:
The view from the bottom up, just as we were to start on the path. Notice how rocky it is. That's nothing compared to how it becomes later.
Another shot from the beginning:
So you get to this part where it sort of plateaus before it gets really steep and rocky. If you look out towards the water, you see this:
But if you turn around and look inland, you see this:
The graffiti is actually piled rocks that people have gathered to spell things (mostly their names) The photos don't accurately convey how far down that is.
There are ruins and random piles of rocks and suck along the way. Here is some ruined structure with graffiti on it:
Here's the view up just as we embarked on the most difficult part of the climb. See the tiny dots on the path? Those are people. People scrambling up rocks.
This picture of Mark shows exactly what you're walking on. These rocks are slipping and sliding underfoot. But the alternative is smaller, sandier rocks, which slip even more.
I took a short video for a panoramic view:
|From 15 Aug 2009|
I have no idea what this is or was, but it looked spooky in the mist.
Finally, when you are at the top, it gets much colder, much windier, and much mistier. There's a little chapel up there with a painted statue of Saint Patrick inside. This is the back of it:
Here's the doorway to the right:
It took us about two hours to get up because we stopped a few times to catch our breath and eat. Here we are all sweaty at the top:
Another view towards the top. None of these do it justice, though:
On the way back down, I took a couple of shots of the stream that goes down the mountain:
And in keeping with a tradition I started many years ago, here's one of my legs so I can remember what it was like to sit in a place where I was happy:
So, there's a tradition for hikers to have a pint at the tiny pub at the bottom of the mountain. After four hours of climbing, we were more than ready to partake. Here's Mark, about to enjoy his hard earned Guinness:
Then we wandered down past the famine memorial and came upon the ruins of a chapel and a cemetery, which was next to some grazing horses. I took some final photos:
The neighboring town, Westport, is also really cute! Here's the one photo I took of the river that runs through town:
Thanks to Mark's cousin and her husband, we really had a fantastic and relaxing weekend. Unfortunately, today both of us are hobbling around like two crippled people with sticks up our behinds, but we are excited to do more hill climbing very soon over in Bray! Mark took a million photos (on film), so you probably haven't seen the last of this trip...But for the rest of my photos, you can check out the album Here.