For many years the plan was to climb the most famous peak in Mayo. Croagh Patrick, located in beautiful West Mayo is a hive for many locals and tourists throughout the calendar year. Some take on the challenge as a pilgrimage, others as a remembrance to someone special and many others as a fitness or social activity. For some reason, for the previous 37 years of my life I had not taken up the challenge. This changed on Thursday the 22nd of April 2021. With my wife Jennifer and great friends we decided to break up what has now become the mundane routine that is now the reality of lockdown. We packed the lunches, filled the flasks and set off. During the climb many different thoughts crossed my mind. The peace and tranquilly allows you the time to think. A time to reset and live in the moment, away from the madness that has captured our lives over the past fifteen months. I for one came off the mountain feeling refreshed and full of admiration for anyone that is willing to take on the challenge of the climb. Thoughts have lingered with me for the past few days and have constantly brought a smile to my face.
- We live in such a beautiful place in the world
The clear blue skies provided us with spectacular views of Clew Bay and further afield. The closer we got to the peak of Croagh Patrick the more intense a feeling of pride I felt for the place we are lucky to call home. Looking down over the county you see it’s immense beauty. Sometimes as we go about our daily lives, we take this for granted. Standing at the peak of Croagh Patrick it was a wonderful way to reconnect with our surroundings.
- The friendliest place in Ireland
On the ascent up Croagh Patrick you are an amateur. On our descent we were professional climbers advising the next group taking on the challenge of the great reek. The chat, the stories, the fun, the laughter between strangers was glorious. It reminded me of being a kid where everything centred around learning something new and then teaching the next kid how to do it. The challenge was creating conversation between strangers. Everyone feeling the same pain, the same fear and the same joy as we were trying to achieve the same goal.
- Sense of Achievement
“Not bad for a man that nearly died last year” was one gentleman’s comment to me as he made his way down the reek with his partner. You could see the joy in his face. He had achieved something he didn’t think possible only a few months ago. We sensed it too. The relief when you see that little white church. Thoughts flashing through your mind as you eat your lunch “How did my dad manage to do that”, “How do people climb in their bare feet?” But the joy was real. Something we had talked about for years had now been achieved. It was tough but we got there.
- Exercise is a Social Event
We base our gyms around our community. People together looking after their health in a fun, safe environment. Relying on each other to provide energy in the gym. To encourage and push each other through a challenging workout. The fun of interacting with each other and thinking how will we get through this is an intangible benefit from exercising in a team or gym environment. The sense of joy when the challenge is achieved is amazing. We experienced this during the climb. It was a brilliant feeling to see groups working together and getting through something so tough with a smile on their face. It reminded me of the great days we have had in our own business and I long for the day we can provide this service again.
- Most enjoyable 99 ever eaten
With all indoor dining closed, we decided to cap off the day with a coffee and a 99-ice cream Cone. Bliss at the foot of Croagh Patrick. We had earnt it.