"Croagh Patrick comes from the Irish Cruach Phadraig meaning (Saint) Patrick's stack. It is known locally as "The Reek", a Hiberno-English word for "rick" or "stack". Croagh Patrick has been a site of pilgrimage, especially at the summer solstice, since before the arrival of Celtic Christianity. St. Patrick reputedly fasted on the summit of Croagh Patrick for forty days in the fifth century and built a church there. Popular legend says that at the end of Patrick's forty-day fast, he threw a silver bell down the side of the hill, knocking the she-demon Corra from the sky, and banishing all the snakes from Ireland.......In modern times, a small chapel was built at the top of the summit and dedicated in 1905."
This is a sign at the bottom of the summit regarding the pilgrimage.
Information on Croagh Patrick.
A drawing of the church on top of Croagh Patrick.
We arrived there about 3:30 pm. There was a small gift shop that we visited. We only came across the people who worked in the shop. Then we stood outside and read the signs for the pilgrimage. We only walked a few steps up the pathway, but since I had knee surgery just 6 months prior to our trip, I wasn't going to even attempt to make the trek. I was surprised when an elderly couple passed us by and started up the hill. Although it was only about 4:00 pm, it was starting to get dark and it looked like rain. They wouldn't get back down till 7:30 and that is if they walked at a steady pace AND didn't take time out to pray once they reached the top!
I don't remember if someone told us, or if we read this, but twice a year, (maybe on the solstice?), the setting sun is perfectly positioned in the sky to look as if it is a ball of fire rolling down the Croagh Patrick. That certainly would have been a sight to see!
And finally, here is the perfect recipe for Irish Soda Bread, given to my sister (and now to you) from a true Irishwoman.
Irish Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
This makes 2 loaves (9x5 loaf pan)
Grease pans with butter for a better crust (This is in addition to the butter that is called for in the recipe)
NOTE: For moister bread, pour boiling water over raisins in a separate bowl, let sit for a few minutes until raisins plump up. Drain well, then add to batter.
6 cups flour (DO NOT SIFT)
2 cups raisins (SEE NOTE ABOVE)
2 cups sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
32 ounce sour cream
2 Tablespoons butter
Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients and raisins and blend well. Pour into greased loaf pans. Bake for at least 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Make a pot of tea, get some butter, and enjoy!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!