Tour Code: 35469P2
This is a Wild Atlantic Way tour unlike any other – a unique western Irish experience. We begin our journey on the west side of 'Ireland's holiest mountain,' Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, and make our way up to the area of the mountain known as Reilig Mhuire, with its magnificent views of the Sheeffry Hills and Mweelrea Mountains, and the large islands off the west coast. On the way, we pass the old gold miners road and the ravine cut into the hillside by the high springs that provide water to the villages below. Before reaching the summit, we detour to the site known as 'Bob of the Reek's Cave' with its extraordinary legend.
In the early 19th century, a man who came to be known as ‘Bob of the Reek’ made his home near the summit of the mountain. He spent the next fourteen years assisting pilgrims in their quest to reach the peak. Winter months were spent in the company of friends at the foot of Croagh Patrick. He was said to be a pious yet jovial man who could endure great hardship. That must surely have been the case, if one is to believe that the structure known as ‘Bob of the Reek’s Cave’ was his home. This ‘cave’, which is actually more reminiscent of a medieval holy well, faces due north and is very high on the mountain. There is also some controversy as to the true identity of Bob of the Reek. Locals in Lecanvey Village, on the northwest side, claim him as Robert Geraghty, one of their own ancestors, while others attest that Bob was actually a Robert Binn,a flax comber from Northern Ireland. Whichever the case, Bob expressed a wish to be buried on top of the Reek, and this was granted. His grave appears on old ordnance survey maps, some thirty metres to the east of the current summit chapel.
We begin our journey on the more benign west side of the mountain, and make our way up to the area of the mountain known as Reilig Mhuire, with its magnificent views of the Sheefry Hills and Mweelrea Mountains, and the large islands off the west coast. On the way, we pass the old gold miners road and the ravine cut into the hillside by the high springs that provide water to the villages below.
Reilig Mhuire consists of three huge cairns. It is believed that in pre-Christian times, this may have been dedicated to a pagan goddess, or was possibly a grave. Today, it is known as the ‘Third Station’ on Croagh Patrick. Here we pause on the shoulder before an ascent to the summit, or second station.
From the summit, we descend to Bob of the Reek’s Cave, being careful to avoid the steep slopes of Lugnademon – the ‘Hollow of the Serpents,’ where Saint Patrick is said to have vanquished snakes and other creatures during his 40-day fast on the mountain.
We then make our way back to the third station following an ancient path that has long since fallen into disuse. It is a pleasant stroll compared to the shale challenges of the mountain heights above. We finish where we started, outside the delightful Staunton’s family pub and restaurant in Lecanvey.
Total distance: 5 miles (8km)
Typical time: 4-5 hours with stops