Tuesday, 20 April 2010 11:54
The beauty and spirit of Croagh Patrick is captured in a newly published book about Ireland's holy mountain.
Croagh Patrick, a place of pilgrimage, a place of beauty is written by Westport man Harry Hughes.
Well-known local businessman Harry knows the mountain like the back of his hand - he's chairman of the Croagh Patrick Archaeological Committee - and his interest shines through in a beautifully illustrated publication.
Author of a number of books on Croagh Patrick, Harry's newest offering is the perfect guide for tourists and locals alike.
He explains the pilgrimage, the history and archaeology of the mountain, ancient traditions associated with it, the church buildings, and also the pilgrims themselves, among them a four-month-old baby who was brought to the summit by her mother in 1988!
Visits by prominent personalities such as poet Patrick Kavanagh, Éamon de Valera and Princess Grace are recalled, along with the less welcome gold seekers.
Tribute is paid to the man who operated the de-facto interpretative centre from his pub at the foot of the Reek for more than 60 years, Owen Campbell, who died last year.
Others to feature are Robert Binn (Bob of The Reek), who is buried on the summit having lived there for 14 years, and the guardians of Croagh Patrick down through the years.
Another interesting story is that of William O'Dwyer, a native of Bohola and a successful attorney in America, who back in the 1920s entered discussions to bring large parties of Irish exiles home as pilgrims, landing in Clew Bay on Inishlyre.
Given its setting, as you'd expect, the photography in the book is picture perfect. A mix of the new and old, photos include the dedication of St. Patrick's Oratory in 1905, while another shows the foot of the mountain in the early 20th century before the statue of St. Patrick was erected.
And it's not all about Croagh Patrick. There's an informative guide to other places of interest including Ballintubber Abbey, the Tóchar Phádraig, Murrisk Abbey, Glosh Patrick, Kilgeever, Aughagower and Caher Island.
Printed by the O'Brien Press, Croagh Patrick, a place of pilgrimage, a place of beauty retails at €9.99.