Reek Sunday, which takes place on the last Sunday in July, is an auspicious occasion celebrated in Ireland. This year, it falls on July 31. On this day, the annual pilgrimage takes place, and thousands of people come to Ireland to climb the country’s “holiest mountain.” Known as “Croagh Patrick,” the mountain is a unique pilgrimage site with a holy history. Pilgrims climb the mountain not only to connect with God but to seek repentance for their sins. So get ready to embark on the expedition if you have something to get off your chest this year. You will surely return as a different person!
History of Reek Sunday
Reek Sunday in Ireland, also known as Garland Sunday, is a religious event where pilgrims climb a sacred mountain. The climb takes over three hours and is a famous pilgrimage spot as it is believed St. Patrick summited the mountain and stayed there for 40 days. During this period, he fasted and prayed to the higher power. It is believed that at the end of the fast, St. Patrick threw a bell down the mountainside and banished the snakes from Ireland. It is due to this gift from St. Patrick that Ireland became habitable.
Today, thousands of people honor St. Patrick by reaching the top of Crough Patrick and attending a mass held in a chapel situated at the mountain. Some of the rituals of the pilgrimage include praying while walking ‘sunwise’ around features on the mountain: seven times around the cairn Benan’s grave, fifteen times around the circular perimeter of the summit, seven times around Patrick’s bed, and then seven times around three ancient burial cairns that are called Mary’s cemetery. While the basic traditions of the pilgrimage have changed, the importance of Reek Sunday remains the same. For instance, around 1970, pilgrims would climb the mountain after sunset. However, people realized that this practice was dangerous and challenging for many pilgrims. Hence, people started to embark upon the mountain in the morning.
While the rituals related to the expedition have religious origins, no one can deny that St. Patrick summited the mountain. Excavations revealed a small oratory on the mountain dating to 430 A.D.
Reek Sunday timeline
Saint Patrick spends 40 days fasting on the mountain.
Walter Heneghan builds a church at the top of Croagh Patrick.
25,000 pilgrims climb Croagh Patrick.
Over 5,000 people take part in Reek Sunday.
Reek Sunday FAQs
Is Croagh Patrick the highest mountain in Ireland?
Croagh Patrick is the fourth-highest mountain in the province of Connacht.
Can dogs climb Croagh Patrick?
No dogs are allowed, except for service dogs.
What is a reek in Ireland?
The word ‘reek’ means ‘rick’ or ‘stack’ in Ireland.
Reek Sunday Activities
Climb Croagh Patrick
To best celebrate the special Sunday, climb Croagh Patrick and experience the festivities firsthand. Grab some of your close friends and family members to make the occasion more memorable.
Spread the message
As time passes, the traditions are becoming unpopular amongst the youth. You can make a difference by spreading the importance of the occasion and why the day holds cultural relevance. You can make a post about the day on social media.
Spread the history
On this day, search for articles, movies, and documentaries and share them with people around you. It is important to keep history alive, and the easiest way to do it is by encouraging people to read up on Reek Sunday.
5 Facts About Croagh Patrick And The Pilgrimage
Participants of the pilgrimage
There are 20,000–30,000 pilgrims who participate on the day.
Pilgrimage without shoes
Some pilgrims climb the mountain barefoot to attain atonement.
The height of the mountain
Croagh Patrick is 2,510 feet high.
Black Bell of St. Patrick
The National Museum of Ireland keeps the bell.
The pilgrimage is an old ritual
The original festival was known as “Lughnasadh.”
Why We Love Reek Sunday
Brings back tradition
This day is a cultural and religious blast from the past! It encourages people to connect with their roots and adapt traditions that have been ignored due to modernization.
It is a day to connect with religion
If you are the religious sort, this is the time to reconnect with God and your spiritual self. Hence, the day is perfect for bringing back some peace into your heart.
Brings families together
The day is important since it focuses on family bonding. Reek Sunday is a traditional event, and it requires families to get together and embark on the journey atop the mountain together.
Reek Sunday dates