Five children were treated for hypothermia during the annual pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo.

At least 18,000 people climbed Croagh Patrick for Reek Sunday, with some beginning their trek up the mountain at 5am.

Mass was celebrated on the top of the mountain every half hour until 2pm.

Mayo Mountain Rescue said that climbing conditions were difficult, with blustery winds and heavy showers.

Pilgrims have been making the journey for 1,600 years and it is tradition to climb the mountain barefoot.

Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, who was among the first to make the ascent, addressed pilgrims as they arrived in Westport last night.

In a homily, he spoke of his concern at the current economic crisis and its impact on families.

Dr Neary said recent times had seen possessions take precedence over people, while selfishness has been rewarded and responsibilities have been evaded.

He said: 'We were invited to invest our hopes in the quest for endless economic growth.'

The Archbishop said that as a result we were witnessing increasing dissatisfaction, dislocation and disintegration within society.

However, he added that the current economic crisis also presented us with an opportunity to re-asses our values and priorities.

It is a chance to focus on our responsibilities to the common good of our fellow human beings, he said.