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Dublin: 14 °C Wednesday 22 May, 2019
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There'll be eleven masses on Croagh Patrick this weekend for Reek Sunday

A total of 25,000 people are expected to take part in the pilgrimage.

A barefoot pilgrim during the climb of Croagh Patrick.
A barefoot pilgrim during the climb of Croagh Patrick.

OVER THE COURSE of this weekend there will be 11 masses on Croagh Patrick as an estimated 25,000 people attend the annual Reek Sunday celebrations.

The Mayo Mountain Rescue Team has said the event means they will mount “the biggest coordinated mountain rescue operation in Ireland” in order to ensure the safety of pilgrims.

A total of 12 different organisations including the Irish Coast Guard and the Irish Air Corps will be providing rescue services.

The pilgrimage is traditionally held on the last Sunday of each July and has in the past seen people treated for hypothermia during the 764 metre climb.

Some of the pilgrims even undertake the climb barefoot but even those who do are advised to take walking boots should they need them.

The first mass of the weekend-long event took place yesterday morning at the summit of the mountain before another was held at the base of the mountain yesterday evening.

This morning at 9 am there is a “pre-climbing mass” at the base of the mountain before tomorrow, Reek Sunday.

During the course of tomorrow, there will be hourly masses at the summit from 8 am with the final mass taking place at 2 pm. Confessions will also be taken on the summit of the mountain during that period.

The Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary will celebrate mass at the summit 11 am tomorrow.

File Photo A retired parish priest has called for badly eroded sacred mountain Croagh Patrick to be declared off limits for many activities until a proper conservation plan is implemented. Fr Tony King wants the 764m mountain to be off-limits to extreme s The mountain's track will be busy this weekend. Source: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

In previous years adverse weather conditions have led to the cancellation of church celebrations on the mountain but some pilgrims undertook the climb regardless.

The Mayo Mountain Rescue Team said ahead of this weekend’s climbing that there has been an average of 20 rescues over the 24-hour-period during previous years:

The team advise that all climbers make safety a priority. We recommend the use of proper walking boots, waterproof clothing, food and water and to be mindful of fitness levels and ability of young children. The weather is very changeable and temperatures can vary by as much as seven degrees between sea level and the summit.

Read: Hundreds ignore warning not to climb Croagh Patrick, ten get hypothermia >

Read: Ireland’s holiest mountain is crumbling – but that won’t stop the barefoot pilgrims >

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Rónán Duffy

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