Bishop urges pilgrims to Croagh Patrick to drive safely after worrying rise in road fatalities

Bishop Fintan Monahan yesterday appealed to thousands of pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick to “slow down and drive safe”.

peak on the Irish Independent Speaking at Reek Sunday and Croagh Patrick’s first annual pilgrimage since the pandemic began, the Bishop of Killaloe said he was trying to make people aware of the dangers of the roads.

“On long weekends, people are out of their normal routines and slack off a little.”

You see the impact of bereavement and the consequences this carnage leaves in terms of sadness

“In our job dealing with so many funerals, you see not only the impact of the immediate deaths, but also the people who are seriously injured,” he said.

“You see the impact of bereavement and the fallout that carnage leaves behind in terms of sadness.”

He expressed concern at last week’s road fatalities and the fact that the 95 deaths so far this year represent a 42 per cent increase in fatalities compared to last year.

Separately, Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy used his Sunday homily in Reek to highlight the decline in priestly numbers and the changes ahead for parishes.

He told parishioners at St. Mary’s Church in Westport, Co. Mayo: “I suggest you look at your priest, he may be the last in a long line of resident pastors and may not be replaced. I suggest you look at your church, you may be lucky enough to have a Sunday Mass or more, but for how long?”


Alan Johnson, a former world kickboxing champion suffering from motor neuron disease, makes his way to Croagh Patrick with the help of his nephew James Callanan (left) and brother Colin Johnson. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

At the foot of Croagh Patrick, Dr. Duffy dem Irish Independent “Decline is everywhere” in the Irish Church. “Last year there were 26 students in Maynooth, 30 years ago there could have been 500 in the country. It’s a ’95 drop little by little over the years. It’s shockingly low right now and that tells a story for the future. I think it’s important that we prepare for this – by being aware that it’s happening and that this is coming.”

Of the thousands who took part in the Reek Sunday climb, Dr. Duffy that for some it has been a “very deep pilgrimage”.

“Today means a lot to people who have come here over the years and to people who are new here. Mountains, especially a majestic mountain like Croagh Patrick, stimulate our minds. At the top you see things a little differently – you get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful landscape.”

Vera Coyle, of near Belmullet, Co. Mayo, was joined on her ascent by her sons, Anthony and Henry. She tries to climb the holy mountain every year but Covid had put that on hold. “I do it for special causes: for deceased family members and people who are ill.”

Also making the arduous climb was Alan Johnson, a former kickboxing champion who is now weakened by motor neuron disease.


Sr. Jasmine John, Sr. Sybil Umi and Sr. Mareena Matthew of the Order of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate of Portlaoise, Co. Laois make it to the top of Croagh Patrick. Photo: Michael McLaughlin

Supported by a team of family support workers, he said he took on the challenge because since his diagnosis four years ago, “people tell me I can’t do this, and I can’t do that,” and he wanted to challenge that.

Micheál Ó Gallachoir from Ardee, Co. Louth climbed barefoot. “It was not so bad. This is probably the 10th time I’ve done it in my feet,” he said.

It’s nice to see the mountain in pristine condition

He explained that he was doing this as an act of penance. “100 years ago my grandfather, Anthony Gallagher, was arrested on Croagh Patrick during the Civil War and taken to Newbridge Prison from which he escaped. So I said I better do the pilgrimage this year to commemorate him.”

For Andrew Gaule, a visitor from Britain, his ascent had no religious significance, but he said it was nice to see people of faith walking barefoot and praying the rosary.

Commenting on his good deed in cleaning up, he said, “It’s nice to see the mountain in pristine condition.” Bishop urges pilgrims to Croagh Patrick to drive safely after worrying rise in road fatalities

Fry Electronics Team

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