Croagh Patrick has been associated with ritual religious observance for thousands of years – and still is today. Unique in an Irish and European context, there is the physical evidence of both a major later-prehistoric and early-historic ritual, ceremonial and defensive focus.
There is also an unbroken pilgrimage tradition stretching back into the depths of recorded history. The main day of pilgrimage is the last Sunday in July (‘Reek Sunday’).
It is believed the earliest Christians arrived in Ireland some 400 years after the birth of Christ. At this time, Ireland was deeply submerged in pagan ritual and tradition. Before association with St Patrick, the Reek (as it is known locally) was called Cruachan Agli, roughly translated as ‘the hill of the eagle’.
According to tradition, Patrick fasted for 40 days as penance on Croagh Patrick, and it is from here that he’s believed to have banished the snakes from Ireland.