Statement of Archbishop Michael Neary on the cancellation of the Reek Sunday pilgrimage 2020

19 May 2020

  • Archbishop Neary will celebrate the vigil Mass in Westport on Saturday 25 July at 6:30 pmwhichwill be offered for the intentions of all who intended to make the pilgrimage.  Prayer intentions can be emailed at any time to [email protected] or by post to Westport Parish, Co Mayo.
  • This Mass will be live-streamed on the parish Facebook page ‘St Marys Church Westport’ which can be accessed on

The National Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick on Reek Sunday is an important annual occasion for many people, and it has a long and distinguished history.  Climbing Ireland’s Holy Mountain provides an opportunity for pilgrims to pray both in petition and in thanksgiving, to participate at Mass and to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance at the summit.                          

Climbing Croagh Patrick also allows us to come to a deeper appreciation of what Pope Francis spoke about in his acclaimed encyclical letter of 2015 Laudato Si’On Care for Our Common Home:

“The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence. […]  They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself” (§66).  The Holy Father continues: 

“The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us.  Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.  The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; [… and] going back to these places is a chance to recover something of [our] true selves.” (§84)

This year, however, having consulted with the various statutory and non-statutory bodies involved in the Reek pilgrimage, having in mind the Government’s “Roadmap” for emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, and accepting the clear public health advice offered, it is necessary to cancel the 2020 National Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick on 26 July.

While this decision will be widely understood, it will, of course, be disappointing for the pilgrims and for those who have already done a considerable amount of preparatory work for the pilgrimage.  However, the Archdiocese of Tuam and the Parish of Westport wish, by taking this decision now, to support the public authorities, individuals and communities in their efforts to suppress the coronavirus circulating in the community at present and, God willing, look forward to being in a position to resume the annual pilgrimage on Reek Sunday in July 2021.


  • Archbishop Michael Neary is the Archbishop of Tuam and Father Charlie McDonnell is the Parish Priest of Westport.                                                  

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678