Ireland day 0818. Monday 25 December 2023- Louisburgh Day 3 *

Ireland day 0818. Monday 25 December 2023- Louisburgh Day 3
Today’s summary Climbed Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain.   Challenging conditions but a great achievement.   Turkey sandwiches on the top! Opened our presents when we got back and watched the final instalment of the Crown on Netflix in the evening
Today’s weather Squally showers with a few minutes of sun, which fortunately appeared just as we got the top.   Strong to gale force wind, occasionally much stronger.   Appx 8c but feeling colder on the top
Today’s overview location
(The red mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The red line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Croagh Patrick

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

Well today definitely saw us ringing the changes.   A Christmas Day unlike any we’ve ever had before.

We didn’t rush to get up this morning as, I have to admit, we both had slight hangovers from yesterday(!).   So several cups of tea were required to clear the heads.   Once we were up and about and lurching towards consciousness, we had a quick breakfast, picked up the turkey sandwiches I’d made last night and jumped in the car.

Our first destination today was Murrisk, some 7km to the east of here, and the village where we had dinner a couple of nights ago.   But as soon as we had parked up, we pulled our boots on and set off on our main Christmas objective – an ascent of Croagh Patrick – at 764m / 2507ft) it’s Co. Mayo’s eighth highest peak, and Ireland’s holiest mountain.   We were immediately intercepted by a worthy hiker who said that we had left the start of our walk until “far too late” (it was about 11:30 am) but nevertheless we thanked him for his words of advice and set off anyway.

As soon as we were on the open hillside, we were hit with a blast of icy rain, driven right at us by a storm force westerly wind.   We did briefly consider giving up (well at least I did) but we are made of sterner stuff so we doubled down, pressed on and were soon rewarded with a much better weather interlude.

It’s quite a slog to the top – very stony but the path is well maintained – not surprisingly though as as many as 25,000 people climb it on a single day on Reek Sunday in July.   There were a smattering of people about – not hundreds but enough to make you feel you weren’t alone in your battle with the elements.   There were still people making their way up as we came down.

Once at the top, miraculously the sun came out and we even fleetingly saw a rare Brocken Spectre.   It faded quicker than I could get my camera out, so the image will just have to remain in committed to grey cells not pixels.   There’s a chapel on the top where Mass is sometimes held, though today the hatches were well and truly battened down against the elements.

We stopped long enough to admire the stunning views in all directions – Connemara to the south and Clew Bay, with its drumlin islands to the north.   And just long enough to enjoy our turkey sandwiches.   What a fantastic Christmas dinner!   But the wind was stormy and cold, so as soon as we had eaten, and before the weather window closed, we turned round and set off back down the way we had come up.   We were slightly aware from the worried walker at the start that it was late in the day and although it stays light relatively late here (till about 5pm) because we are so far west, it would soon be getting dark.

We got down without incident and just had time to look at the somewhat macabre national famine memorial in a park on the other side of the road in Murrisk.   It’s  a sailing boat – possibly the Jeannie Johnson – fashioned from wrought iron and adorned with the skeletal remains of the famine victims it carried to distant shores in the 1840s.

From Murrisk we got back in the patiently waiting Trusty Yaris and returned to our cottage for hot showers, Christmas presents (fantastic!), mince pies, a nice glass of wine and video calls to our family.   To cap it off we watched the last episode of The Crown on Netflix.

So, truly a memorable day all round.   A great sense of satisfaction from achieving something tough, and the memory will certainly stay with us for many years to come.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Setting off into the wind and rain with the blessing of the Saint – and his eponymous mountain looming on the horizon It didn’t exactly look inviting up there.   But to our delight and amazement, confounding all expectations, the weather actually got a lot better as we climbed
Looking down to Clew Bay with its myriad Drumlin islands.   Actually I think the sinuous formation leading to the island in the foreground might be an Esker.   They are both glacial features, left behind in braided streams as the ice melts and retreats.   Then in this case flooded as post ice-age sea levels rose Just to prove we were here!
Brief sunny interval just as we got to the top.   Behind me, on a cloud bank below the summit, we fleetingly saw a Brocken Spectre – that rarest of mountain phenomena National Famine Memorial, with Croagh Patrick beyond
Turkey sandwiches in the wind shadow of the chapel.   What an amazing Christmas lunch!
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 9042 m
Max elevation: 751 m
Min elevation: 19 m
Total climbing: 833 m
Total descent: -833 m
Total time: 04:13:15
Download file: Croagh Patrick compressed corrected.gpx

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