Pilgrims treated for hypothermia on Croagh Patrick

At least six children were treated for hypothermia today during the annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick.

An estimated 15,000 people made the tradition Reek Sunday trek in blustery winds and heavy showers.

Mayo Mountain Rescue Team revealed many parents brought youngsters up the 765-metre high trek in unsuitable clothing.

Team leader Colm Byrne said weather conditions were very bad during the day, adding it was extremely windy and wet.

“We had to treat a number of children who were inappropriately dressed and cold,” said Mr Byrne.

“At least six were suffering from hypothermia.

“They didn’t need to go to hospital but it was serious enough for them to be treated by doctors.” The youngsters were aged from seven years up.

“Parents should not be bringing children on to Croagh Patrick in those conditions. It is not appropriate,” continued Mr Byrne.

“Children get tired and get carried by their parents.

“But while the adult is warm and sweating, the child is freezing cold and is spending four to five hours up there.”

The pilgrimage was led by the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Rev Dr Michael Neary, who started the climb at 7am with Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady.

The Archbishop celebrated mass at the summit at 10.30am under the theme of this year’s pilgrimage, hope.

While more than 20,000 pilgrims made the traditional Reek Sunday trek last year, it is believed just 15,000 climbed today.

A small number of people needed medical attention for minor cuts and suspected coronary problems.

Mr Byrne said due to the weather forecast, thousands climbed yesterday with one woman airlifted from the summit with a broken ankle.

Many more spread the climb out over the month, he added.

Around 150 volunteers from mountain rescue teams across the north west were on the hill throughout the day.

“We have had quite a lot of call outs over the last two to three weeks,” added Mr Byrne.

“It is definitely the busiest mountain in Ireland at the moment.”

The national pilgrimage is associated with St Patrick who, in 441, spent 40 days and nights fasting on the summit, following the example of Christ and Moses.

It has been carried out uninterrupted for over 1,500 years.

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