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July 2017 marks the 5 year anniversary of our move to Dublin. Over the next few months I’m writing a few posts to share about that journey. You can keep up with all posts in this series here.

In a recent post I mentioned a road trip we took around Ireland. Our first destination was Croagh Patrick.

The story is that St. Patrick completed forty days of fasting and penance here during a Lenten period.

12 Noon :: I was not familiar at all with Croagh Patrick, so I didn’t understand why Liz was as stressed as she was about our relatively late departure from Ballybay. It was only a 3.5 hour drive.

3:00 pm :: with lunch along the way in Longford.

At least I think it was Longford…

5:00 pm :: And a stop at the Supervalu in Westport to have snacks for our hike.

5:30 :: Then finally to Croagh Patrick.

According the their website, it takes 2 hours up and 90 minutes down. And at this point in the year, the sun was setting after 9 pm and even then twilight lasted a couple more hours. So, we should be eating dinner in Westport in about 3 hours.

Yes, he is barefoot

How hard could it be? This is a place where people often do penance…some people do the hike barefoot…and others on their knees. So five healthy people could clearly do the whole thing in less than 4 hours…right?

Everything started okay, but pretty quickly went down hill (sorry for the bad pun). Liz found a bench on the first incline and declared she couldn’t go it anymore. Erin, Brenna and I continued on while Hannah went back to try and convince her mom that she could do it.

What no one knew at that point was that Liz was about 6 weeks pregnant with Méabh at that point (although to be fair, I’d been telling Liz for about two weeks that she was pregnant). To Hannah’s credit she convinced her mom to keep going.

While we were on the hike, the mountain was in the clouds, so we couldn’t always see too far ahead.

We got to one point where I thought we’d actually made it to the top, but the clouds clear and revealed that we weren’t even close. I just stood there staring for a while, wondering if we were really going to do this. That is when Liz and Hannah caught up to us.

And at that point, the whole family decided to keep on going.

To this point the incline had been steep at times, but not too steep, and there were stairs as well as a wide foot path.

The rest of the hike up was uneventful. Although the change in terrain near the summit was a bit of a concern.

8:10 pm :: We reached the top!!

While Liz’s physical issue was a baby on board…mine was a bad ankle. I sprained my left ankle several times playing basketball in high school and ended up with torn ligaments and bone chips.

It has never healed right and my ankle often gives out on flat terrain. But the section of the climb right before the summit was not only steep, it was large loose stones. So part of the descent involved me walking sideways, backwards, or simply shuffling down the hill on my butt. (So not too many photos on the way down)

To make things even more embarrassing, it was the time of night when the runners start coming out. They run up the hill…and then back down the hill, maneuvering the rocks like they were running on a beach.

It was frustrating watching them.

But then something worse happened.

Nobody was passing us.

We were the last people on the mountain.

And it was getting dark.

The last hour of the hike was done in the dark…by the light of my iPhone flashlight.

On the final descent, three of us tripped on rocks. Thankfully the pregnant woman didn’t. Occasionally we would get glimpses of the parking lot light to let us know we were going in the right direction.

11:23 pm :: We saw Patrick!

We screamed and shouted…thankfully no one was around.

Total Time of Hike :: Under 6 hours!!

So we hopped in the car and drove to get something to eat. But it was too late. Restaurants were closed. We couldn’t even find a convenience store.

So we drove 90 minutes to Galway where we’d booked a hotel.

2:00 am ::  We arrived at our hotel…hungry, tired, and thankful to not be on Croagh Patrick.

Thankfully the rest of our trip was a bit less eventful.

(You can see more photos of our hike here)


Also published on Medium.

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About author / bob

I am a church planter living on Dublin's Northside. I also serve as Director of Marketing for Communitas International. I write about various topics that happen to be going through my brain.