Conquered by St. Patrick's Mountain
Ascending the 2,500-foot Irish peak Croagh Patrick proved more difficult than anticipated.
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While I carefully planned strategies for a year in advance to successfully run in Pamplona, Spain, my climb of Croagh Patrick (St. Patrick's Mountain) in Ireland was totally impromptu.
My wife, Adele; her sister, Geraldine; Geraldine's husband, Gerard; and I rented a car at Galway airport. After an overnight stay on the desolate Aran Islands, we were ready for mainland excitement. We planned on visiting places such as Yates's Sligo, as well as the city of Westport. [Editor's note: The original version misidentified the islands.]
Westport, a postcard-worthy seaport town in County Mayo, is 115 miles from Shannon airport. We decided to book our next bed and breakfast there. After plopping our luggage in our rooms, we asked our proprietress, Kay, for sightseeing recommendations.
"Easy," she said. "Today is Reek Sunday. Why not climb Croagh Patrick?"
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but none of us had ever heard of Reek Mountain, as Croagh Patrick is also known. Another of her guests explained: "It's always the last Sunday in July. On this day, devoted folks try to follow in St. Patrick's footsteps to the summit."
I could feel my feet tapping. We were going to climb Ireland's highest peak. Since Reek Mountain stood just a few miles out of town, the proprietress recommended our walking there. But we'd learned already that "a short walk" in Ireland was not similar in any way to a short walk in the United States.
Before the B&B's cuckoo clock welcomed its next hour, our rental car chugged and idled in the snaky line leading to mountain's parking area.
Our enthusiasm swelling, we jogged across the lot toward the mountain's base. We slipped past several souvenir stands, food vendors, and giveaways of small Bibles and religious brochures.
The inviting food aroma seemed similar to that of New York's San Gennaro festival. The Irish outdoor chefs barbecued tasty morsels of chops and hamburgers that made one salivate. After savoring these foods, we attended to the business of climbing Croagh Patrick.