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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020

13 mountain rescue teams in Mayo for mass 'Reek Sunday' pilgrimage

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people are expected to climb ‘Ireland’s holiest mountain’ today.

Pilgrims during the 2007 ascent.
Pilgrims during the 2007 ascent.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS from all over the country are in Mayo this weekend ahead of the annual ‘Reek Sunday’ ascent of Croagh Patrick.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people are expected to climb ‘Ireland’s holiest mountain’ throughout the day as part of the pilgrimage, which is traditionally held on the last Sunday of each July.

There’s an outside chance the numbers could even exceed the 20,000 number, according to Robert Hunt of Mayo Mountain Rescue, which is heading up the emergency response today.

“We’ve been planning for this since April,” Hunt said.

We’d have thirteen teams from all around the country.

Triage facilities will be set up on the mountainside, with nurses and doctors at the stations assessing each casualty on the spot and recommending the best course of action.

Two people were seriously injured during the ascent last year, and had to be airlifted from Croagh Patrick by helicopter — while three people were airlifted to hospital the previous year.

Locals have raised concerns recently that erosion of the peak is making the surface more treacherous than before — a report carried out by Mountaineering Ireland two years ago found the path to the summit was in a “significantly degraded state”.

Wear boots

Hunt is advising anyone attempting the climb to dress appropriately for the task, including the wearing of “appropriate footwear” (hardcore pilgrims tend to try the ascent barefoot — significantly increasing their risk of a lower leg injury).

Mayo Mountian Rescue receives donations from various local groups every year – including the Catholic Church – in advance of Reek Sunday, according to Hunt.

“The teams from elsewhere are here all weekend, so we have to organise accommodation for the teams, accommodation for each member.

We’d have donations too from some suppliers of bread, butter and milk and the like to feed everyone.

The first mass on the summit is due to begin at 8am this morning, and there’ll be services every half hour thereafter until 2pm.

Read: Erosion of Croagh Patrick a major concern ahead of ‘Reek Sunday’ pilgrimage

PHOTOS: Climbing Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday

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