The traditional pilgrimage on Croagh Patrick this Reek Sunday has been cancelled – with people being asked to stay away.
Gardaí will be on duty on all approaches to the Mayo mountain this year to prevent people from climbing.
Each year, on the last Sunday in July, thousands of climbers flock to Ireland’s holiest mountain. Some follow the tradition of doing the climb in their bare feet. The event requires a large team of volunteers, mountain rescuers and Civil Defence workers to assist hikers.
However, due to Covid-19, this year’s pilgrimage has been called off as volunteers and rescue services will be unable to aid people while social distancing.
There are fears that some people will attempt the climb regardless of the requests, but gardaí are planning to be in the area to direct them away.
Westport priest Fr Charlie McDonnell told the Irish Times: “People who genuinely want to climb the mountain, they can climb on other days if they want to do so carefully. On Sunday, we would encourage people to visit their local church or go for a walk and take their rosary beads with them.”