With planning beginning this month to build a path along the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage to counteract extensive erosion along the trail, a local priest has said it will “enhance” the experience.

The Croagh Patrick Stake-holders Group, established in 2015, have already built a 20-metre path in a trial run and have begun an evaluation process into a more substantial trail leading up the mountain.

Fr Charlie McDonnell, Administrator of Westport Parish, said: “The mountain itself is sick, it’s in a bad state of disrepair. The use of the mountain up to the 1980s was one day of a year, then you were into the 80s and 90s where it went from just Reek Sunday to the mountain been more widely used, on a daily basis.”

“People are concerned it’s going to make the climb easier, they’re going to stop it being a pilgrimage – none of that. It’s something that needs to be done so that the mountain itself is sustained over the years.”

Fr Charlie added that over the last number of years he’s been working on preserving “the integrity of the pilgrimage” and has been extending the opening times of the mountain’s chapel for prayer, and working to improve pilgrims’ experience.

The trial path is two metres wide with steps and landings created using local stone from the mountain for a more natural feel.

The stakeholders group includes representatives of the Church along with Mayo County Council, Mountain shareholders, Mountaineering Ireland, Mayo Mountain Rescue, South West Mayo Development Company and more.

The Irish Catholic – January 10th 2018