Irish and Celtic myths and legends, Irish folklore and Irish fairy tales and Legendary Places in Ireland
The holy mountain of Ireland from time immemorial, Croagh Patrick
Croagh Patrick or Patrick's Stack is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians throughout Ireland and the world today, some even walking the ascent in their bare feet as penance for their sins. However it was considered a holy place long before St Patrick came to visit, even though it is said he banished the snakes from Ireland while standing at its summit after forty days and forty nights of fasting. He threw a silver bell down the side of the mountain, knocking the female demon Corra from the sky into a lake, situated on the southern side known locally as Lough na Corra.
The discovery of a ring fort around the top threw into sharp relief that Croagh Patrick was a holy site from five thousand years ago, at the time when Newgrange was raised and before even the Hill of Tara became the seat of Irish High Kings. Back then it was known as Cruachán Aigle, the meaning of which is unknown, although it may have some connection to Crom Cruach, dark god of the old folk.
A little known part of those early pagan observances was the Boheh stone, situated on the pilgrimage trail southeast of Croagh Patrick. If you were to sit on this stone on a clear evening in late April you might be fortunate enough to observe the sun appear to roll down the side of the mountain perfectly, like a ball down a plank of wood. The Boheh stone itself is marked with strange symbols and devices.
Another strange occurrence took place in the year 1113 AD, when chroniclers record that "A ball of fire came on the night of the feast of Patrick 17 March on Cru chain Aighle, and destroyed thirty of those fasting."
Today Croagh Patrick remains a popular spot for pilgrims to visit, indeed too popular for forty thousand people scaling the side of the mountain has had undesireable effects and made the trail unsafe, and it had to be cancelled in 2015. Still, if you're feeling up to it, the journey to the chapel at the top is invigorating and offers a marvellous view of the surrounding landscape.
Croagh Patrick can be seen on the map below.
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