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Reek Sunday (Irish: Domhnach na Cruaiche) or Garland Sunday is an annual day of pilgrimage in Ireland. On the last Sunday in July, pilgrims climb Ireland's holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick (764 metres) in County Mayo. It is held in honour of Saint Patrick who, in the year 441, spent 40 days fasting on the mountain. Masses are held at the summit, where there is a small chapel. Some climb the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance, and some carry out 'rounding rituals', which were formerly a key part of the pilgrimage. This involves praying while walking sunwise around features on the mountain. They walk seven times around the cairn of Leacht Benáin (Benan's grave), fifteen times around the circular perimeter of the summit, seven times around Leaba Phádraig (Patrick's bed), and then seven t

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  • Reek Sunday (Irish: Domhnach na Cruaiche) or Garland Sunday is an annual day of pilgrimage in Ireland. On the last Sunday in July, pilgrims climb Ireland's holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick (764 metres) in County Mayo. It is held in honour of Saint Patrick who, in the year 441, spent 40 days fasting on the mountain. Masses are held at the summit, where there is a small chapel. Some climb the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance, and some carry out 'rounding rituals', which were formerly a key part of the pilgrimage. This involves praying while walking sunwise around features on the mountain. They walk seven times around the cairn of Leacht Benáin (Benan's grave), fifteen times around the circular perimeter of the summit, seven times around Leaba Phádraig (Patrick's bed), and then seven t
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  • Reek Sunday
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  • Reek Sunday (Irish: Domhnach na Cruaiche) or Garland Sunday is an annual day of pilgrimage in Ireland. On the last Sunday in July, pilgrims climb Ireland's holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick (764 metres) in County Mayo. It is held in honour of Saint Patrick who, in the year 441, spent 40 days fasting on the mountain. Masses are held at the summit, where there is a small chapel. Some climb the mountain barefoot, as an act of penance, and some carry out 'rounding rituals', which were formerly a key part of the pilgrimage. This involves praying while walking sunwise around features on the mountain. They walk seven times around the cairn of Leacht Benáin (Benan's grave), fifteen times around the circular perimeter of the summit, seven times around Leaba Phádraig (Patrick's bed), and then seven times around three ancient cairns known as Reilig Mhuire (Mary's cemetery). The pilgrimage has been held yearly for at least 1,500 years. It is likely that it pre-dates Christianity and was originally a ritual associated with the festival of Lughnasadh. Pilgrimages were made to the tops of many other mountains at this time of year, such as Mount Brandon in Munster, Slieve Donard in Ulster and Church Mountain in Leinster. Between 15,000 and 30,000 pilgrims participate, compared to a yearly climbing total of more than 100,000. The Archbishop of Tuam leads the climb each year. Up to 300 personnel from eleven mountain rescue teams from across Ireland are involved, including the local Mayo Mountain Rescue Team, for whom it is the busiest day of the year. Also involved is the Air Corps, Irish Cave Rescue Organisation (ICRO) the Order of Malta, Civil Defence Ireland and members of An Garda Síochána. Injuries ranging from cuts and broken bones to hypothermia and cardiac arrest occur each year. The climb takes two hours, on average, and one and a half hours to descend.
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