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History of Reek Sunday, part 3: Location


In County Mayo in Ireland, Cruach Phadraig — as it is known in Irish — is also called “The Reek.” It stands at 764 meters or 2510 feet elevation. It is located about 5 miles from the lovely town of Westport , an Irish Tidy Town . St. Patrick’s “Confessions” tells of his slavery in the wood of Fochluth . Evidence relating to the history of St. Patrick suggests that this location was actually on the west shore of Ireland in this area.

Westport is a popular tourist destination in County Mayo, not only as a launching point for the pilgrimage, but for its picture postcard beauty. In the center of the town is an octagon with a pillar featuring St. Patrick. On each of the eight sides is a panel illustrating an event from his life.

The Book of Armagh , a vellum book on display alongside the fabled and ornately illustrated “Book of Kells” at the Trinity College Library in Dublin, is thought to have been written by the hand of Patrick himself and tells of him hearing of the Wood of Fochloth and agreeing to undertake a mission there because of the children crying with a loud voice saying “Come O Holy Patrick to save us.” Though Patrick began his evangelization of Ireland in 432 AD, it wasn’t until 9 years alter that he reached Croagh Patrick just before Easter of 441 AD, or more specifically before Lent.

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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