The Suffering Irish


About this Item

'7 Days' looks at pilgrimages to Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo, the reasons for participating in the pilgrimage and the types of people that do it. According to legend Saint Patrick climbed Croagh Patrick and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

  • Title
    Pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick
  • 1st Broadcast
  • Contributor
    Bill O'Herlihy
  • Clip Duration
  • Material Type
  • Series title
    7 Days
  • Clip title
    The Suffering Irish
  • Extended description

    Bill O'Herlihy, along with 15,000 other pilgrims, visits "The Reek" as it is commonly known on National Pilgrimage Day, which falls on the last Sunday of July each year.

    Croagh Patrick is 2,510 feet high, almost 3 miles from base to peak, and takes 3 hours to climb to the top. For many, this all night vigil of pain and endurance represents the roots of their religion - Christianity and the Cross and the "Suffering Irish".For 11 hundred years, men and women have climbed Croagh Patrick with a primitive and purging faith.

    The film shows young and old climbing the mountain booted or bare foot in wet, cold and blustery conditions. According to folklore, St. Patrick climbed the mountain and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

    Another interpretation says that the pilgrimage emerged from a Christian adaptation of a pagan festival. For many, it is now a personal pilgrimage and mass at the top of the reek marks the sacrifice made by the pilgrims.

    The meanings assigned to the pilgrimage are many and varied and include: penitential exercise, a physical challenge, a tradition, and a way to pass the night.

  • Information

    Bill O'Herlihy reports for '7 Days' on the pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo. This report was first broadcast on 31 July 1970.

    'Seven Days' (it later became '7 Days') began broadcasting on 26 September 1966 and was RTÉ television's flagship current affairs programme for ten years.

    The programme's young production team was made up of producer Lelia Doolan, directors Eoghan Harris and Dick Hill, and reporters John O'Donoghue, Brian Cleeve and Brian Farrell. Muiris Mac Conghail became producer of '7 Days' in 1967 when the programme was merged with another current affairs programme, 'Division'.

  • Local keywords
    Bill O'Herlihy, Croagh Patrick, Saint Patrick, Pilgrimage, The Reek, National Pilgrimage Day,
  • Geographical coverage
  • Topic
    National Holidays, Festivals, Anniversaries, Annual Events
  • Publisher Broadcaster
  • First broadcast channel
  • Production year
  • Country of production
  • Original identifier
  • IPR restrictions
    Rights Reserved - Free Access
  • Rights terms and conditions

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  • Item type
  • Item colour
    Black and White
  • Item sound
  • Aspect ratio
  • Language used
    English (eng)
  • Original language
    English (eng)