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April 27, 2007

Patrick's Mountain

Croagh (pronounced "Crow") Patrick in County Mayo is a rather intimidating peak. Crowned at it's top by a small Oratory chapel it is reputed to be the site of St Patrick's famous defeat of the devil and, some say, the place from which he banished all forms of serpent. Today it is a pilgrimage site, and pilgrims and other visitors take a challenging route to the top following a "pilgrim" route marked out by thousands of feet and markers giving the various "stations" such as St Patrick's Bed and other points at which the saint is said to have rested or performed some action. It is a very stiff climb and the path is so well trodden that erosion is starting to be a problem.

Croagh Patrick.jpg
Croagh Patrick seen from the tidal inlet below. It is a starkly beautiful place.

Sheep still graze upon it's slopes, a reminder that Patrick was once a slave shepherd, quite possibly on these very slopes. Sheep are funny beasts, not least because they cannot eat grass which is too long. Cattle like the grass long which is why many farmers and herders will put cattle into a filed, and when they have eaten it down to a certain level, move them on and put sheep in. In Patrick's day the sheep would have had a problem foraging in the lower areas because it was heavily wooded and the grass grew so well that it is recorded that haymaking was not necessary. That means that the sheep probably had to graze higher up the slopes and above the tree and scrub lines to find the low growing grass and plants they feed on. For the likes of Patrick this would, in its turn, mean that they would have had to endure exposure to the wind and rain with little shelter from tree, scrub bush or even huts.

The path to the top of Croagh Patrick is not for the faint hearted or the ill equipped. The advice is to start early in the morning and climb steadily throughout the day, to take plenty of water and to take frequent rest breaks. Part of the path runs up a ridge with steep slopes on either side - and the eroded pathways are covered in loose stones and slippery scree. Good walking boots are essential - although, in July, true pilgrims climb bare footed! - and there is advice to ensure that you have the means to summon help if necessary.

In Patrick's time it would have been a place of extreme loneliness and very harsh living for anyone, let alone a slave valued by his masters as less than the beasts he was tending. It certainly makes one think of our own ability to survive in such conditions, and on the faith that drove this man to not only survive but to return as a missionary to share that with his former masters.

Posted by The Gray Monk at April 27, 2007 01:54 PM

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patrick thew out the brass, gold and silver,
snakes, of the dannites , from mayo and his mountian,
the dannites/ sidions/ phonicens/ / vikings
are one in the same.
the sea people, / the had mines all over ,
sar-dania was a copper mine, iberia tin min,
somollia was a gold mine,
danmark, danube river, dan e land,
there is the wishing wells, the dannites
brought with them in honor of thier ancient father, jacob , when he visited the well his
other 9 sons threw joseph into and for 8 years
he would go there and rent and riped his clothes into little pecies,
the dannites also wore there kilts of many colors
in honer of joseph and his coat of many colors

Posted by: michael higgins at May 24, 2007 03:02 AM

The legends about Patrick are simply amazing, but, in reality, they are the result of embellishments from those who desired to make him into a Folk Hero of the old Pagan School. The real man is far more amazing than the legends and must have a good laugh at some of the wilder things it is said he has done. Ireland has never had snakes, in fact there is only one native lizard species, a fact remarked on by visitors long before Patrick's time there. His sojourn on Croagh Patrick has come down to us as his legendary struggle with the Devil, but I suspect it is much more likely to be the sort of bleak and inhospitable mountainside where he found his God and Saviour as he tended his sheep; lonely and miserable, cut off from his family and denied the company of others.

A truly remarkable man - even without the legends.

Posted by: The Gray Monk at May 24, 2007 06:15 AM

I have read recently that mayo is the maritine county, i beleive it has been a special place
for thousands of years, it has been written
that st patricks mountian has been the most visited mountian in history, and that writer begs the question , did patrick make the mountian or did the mountian make patrick.
To tell the truth as soon as i read that article, it dawned on me that the ark of the covenant and davids harp were not in tara.

Posted by: michael higgins at June 24, 2007 11:25 PM

I have plans to meet my son at croagh
patrick in augest of 08, when he finishes the year in chang shu teaching english,
my grandfather was born within 20 miles of patricks mountian in 1902
of course i will be looking for clue's in clew
bay, I'll be looking for brass snakes on a pole,
like the one moses asked the tribe of dan to make in the desert, found in numbers 21.4-9
and mentioned agian in jhon 3.14
I beleive they would look like the rod of asclepius, a serpent entwined around a staff.
known as a healing staff.
the funny thing is the dannites made the healing staff for moses a thousand years before
asclepius who dies in 300bc.
you can see the simaler symbol of the medical communtiy , who use 2 snakes on a pole with
wings on top
, due to the word sereph, in the old testement
which had 2 meanings -both snake and winged angel

Posted by: michael higgins at September 16, 2007 02:24 AM