Archbishop Neary to lead annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick

26 Jul 2012

Archbishop Michael Neary to lead annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick

The annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage will take place this weekend on Ireland’s holy mountain Croagh Patrick, County Mayo, in the Archdiocese of Tuam.  This pilgrimage has been undertaken – uninterrupted – for over 1500 years.  Croagh Patrick has over 100,000 visitors annually with up to 20,000 people expected on this special weekend.

The 2012 pilgrimage will be led by Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, who this year will be joined by the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, His Excellency Archbishop Charles J Brown.  Archbishop Brown was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, on 26 November 2011.  On Saturday 28 July at 6:30pm Archbishop Brown will celebrate the Vigil Mass in Westport and Archbishop Neary will preach the homily during the Mass.  On Reek Sunday Archbishop Neary and Archbishop Brown will begin their ascent at 7:00am and accompanying them will be the two most recently ordained priests for the diocese: Father Shane Sullivan, who is curate in the Cathedral parish in Tuam, and Father Eugene O’Boyle who is the priest chaplain attached to the hospitals in Castlebar.

On the summit of Croagh Patrick Mass will be celebrated from 8.00am and at every half-hour thereafter until the last Mass at 2.00 pm.  Archbishop Brown will celebrate Mass at 9:30am; Canon James Walsh, Parish Priest of Kilmeena, will celebrate Aifreann lán Gaeilge at 10.00am; and Archbishop Neary will celebrate Mass at 10.30am.  Pilgrims may avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on the summit from 7.30am to 2.30pm.

A special website feature is now available on and it includes a video interview with Archbishop Neary on the significance of the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage for people of faith; highlights recent pilgrimages including television footage of Reek Sunday 2008; and, gives background information on Croagh Patrick.

Croagh Patrick is a physically demanding pilgrimage.  All those who intend to make the pilgrimage climb are asked to come prepared with for the changeable weather conditions, to bring suitable warm/waterproof clothing, good footwear, a walking stick/staff and water, and to be mindful of the safety of themselves and other pilgrims.


Notes for Editors

•    Archbishop Neary’s homily for Reek Sunday will be published by the Catholic Communications Office in advance and under embargo.
•    Croagh Patrick, (c.2,510ft/765m) Ireland’s holy mountain, dominates the landscape of southwest Mayo both spiritually and physically.  The Croagh Patrick pilgrimage is associated with Our patron saint Saint Patrick who, in 441, spent forty days and nights fasting on the summit, following the example of Christ and Moses. The name ‘Reek Sunday’ comes from Patrick’s ability to Christianise many pagan customs including the festival of Lughnasa, which previously had heralded the start of the harvest festival honouring the ancient pagan god Lugh, whose name is encompassed in the Irish word for August: Lughnasa. This festival’s tradition became absorbed into the new Christian beliefs and locally become known as Domhnach na Cruaiche (Reek Sunday).
•    History was made in 2008 when Mass was televised live for the first time from the Croagh Patrick summit and broadcast by RTÉ television and on the world-wide web.
•    For Reek Sunday 2006, Archbishop Neary and other pilgrims were accompanied by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.  As successor to Saint Patrick, Cardinal Brady was the first Archbishop of Armagh to climb the Holy Mountain since Saint Patrick.  In 2005, Archbishop Neary unveiled a plaque to mark the centenary of St Patrick’s Oratory on the summit.
•    Further information on Croagh Patrick, and a virtual tour of the mountain, can be viewed on the website of the Archdiocese of Tuam  The website of Westport parish also contains additional information about the Holy Mountain.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth on 00 353 (1) 5053017 and Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678