Thousands scale Croagh Patrick in Irish holy mountain climb

Joseph Mischyshyn/Geograph Image copyright Joseph Mischyshyn/Geograph
Image caption Thousands will take the pilgrims' trail up Croagh Patrick in County Mayo

Up to 30,000 pilgrims have climbed Ireland's holiest mountain - Croagh Patrick in County Mayo - on the day traditionally known as "Reek Sunday".

It is a custom that dates back 1,500 years. Some completed the climb barefoot and in the dark.

The annual pilgrimage commemorates St Patrick's ascent to the summit.

Hundreds started their journey before dawn, getting to the top in the dark for the first in a series of Masses.

The tradition of climbing the 764-metre high mountain on the last Sunday in July stretches back to 441 AD.

It was then that Saint Patrick reputedly fasted on the summit for 40 days and 40 nights, following the example of Jesus Christ and Moses.

More than 100,000 people visit the mountain every year.

The ancient custom for the most devout climbers has been to make the pilgrimage up the 45-degree slope of loose shale and stones of the mountain "barefoot and blind" - at night-time and not wearing footwear.

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