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Thousands take part in Croagh Patrick pilgrimage

Thousands of people took part in the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick yesterday. Picture by RTE.
Connla Young

THE Irish Air Corps airlifted a man off Croagh Patrick yesterday during the annual Reek Sunday pilgrimage.

An estimated 5,000 pilgrims are believed to have taken part in the often challenging climb up the Co Mayo mountain which happens on the last Sunday in July.

The pilgrimage, which has been taking place for about 1,500 years, is held in honour of St Patrick who, according to tradition, spent 40 days fasting on the mountain in the year 441.

A major safety operation was put in place in advance of the annual event involving mountain rescue teams from across Ireland and Britain.

The rescue teams were forced into action several times during the day.

A 46-year-old man was airlifted off the mountain to hospital after suffering chest pains.

Several other people suffered minor injuries but were able walk off the mountain.

Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary led the pilgrimage up the 760m high mountain yesterday morning where hourly Masses were held.

During his homily at the summit of Croagh Patrick Archbishop Neary spoke of the role of the church.

Mayo Mountain Rescue Team organised and co-ordinated rescue and emergency care services. However the fair weather conditions kept casualties to a minimum.

Two years ago all events were cancelled due to extreme weather conditions, but hundreds of people ignored the warnings and climbed anyway, leading to 10 people needing treatment for hypothermia.

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