Tough conditions for Croagh Patrick pilgrimageSunday 30 July 2006 23.00
Many pilgrims climbing Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo have had to endure some of the worst conditions in recent years.
An estimated 20,000 people took part in the annual pilgrimage to the top of the mountain today.
Today saw the first scientific analysis of the pilgrims.
Civil Defence volunteers surveyed 11,000 of the pilgrims and found that two thirds were men, one third were women and that 5% of pilgrims came from outside the country.
220 people, which equated to 2% of the climbers, made the pilgrimage in their bare feet.
The pilgrimage started in difficult weather conditions, with high winds and torrential rain showers.
However, a steady stream of people made their way up the mountain from 6am to 3pm.
Archbishops Sean Brady and Michael Neary celebrated mass on the summit, with Dr Neary making a special appeal to parishes and communities around the country to reach out to Ireland’s immigrant families and show them support kindness and goodwill.
23 people sustained minor injuries or became ill and had to be taken off the mountain by stretcher or helicopter.
Two people were taken to hospital.