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The Mount Sinai of Ireland

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Croagh Patrick, a 2,500-foot mountain in County Mayo, Ireland, is considered the Mount Sinai of Ireland.

Pilgrims have made the trek to the top for the past 5,000 years. The Reek, as the mountain is known in western Ireland, was a shrine of Lugh, a pagan god, and the last Sunday in July coincides with the date of the original pagan festival of Lughnasa.

For Christians, the mountain became a holy place when St. Patrick fasted there for 40 days and 40 nights in the fifth century. According to folklore, it was here that Ireland's patron saint banished all snakes and serpents from the island — the proof of the legend, it is said, is the fact that Ireland is the only European country without snakes or toads. 

Those who make their way to the top have a spectacular view overlooking Clew Bay — the sea below is dotted with hundreds of tiny islands. 

Pilgrims may also obtain a plenary indulgence for their journey when certain requirements are met, including the pilgrimage, receiving the sacraments of reconciliation and the Eucharist on the summit. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017