Mr Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, has confirmed that he has approved €480,000 in funding to support sustainable access works and habitat restoration on Croagh Patrick.
Minister Ring said: "Croagh Patrick is an internationally famous mountain and place of pilgrimage. The Reek, as we know it, is especially dear to people in Mayo.
"However, with its increasing popularity, the mountain and its habitats are at risk of being damaged. This funding will create a stone path to enable walkers and pilgrims to use the mountain in a sustainable way.
"The proposed path will be around two metres wide with some variation in width to allow congregation of people without impacting on the surrounding vegetation. The objective is to manage the path in a way that is sympathetic to the setting whilst respecting the cultural value of the mountain.
"This funding will help provide sustainable access to Croagh Patrick, while providing a high-quality experience for all visitors whatever their inspiration or purpose.
"I commend the work done by The Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group and Mayo County Council in preparing this solution. I wish them well in implementing this work which will help to maintain and manage the mountain sustainably into the future."
Locally sourced materials will be used throughout the repair and restoration of the path and damaged habitats and it may be necessary to move materials along the length of the route to ensure that there are no shortages of appropriate stone. Any imported stone will match that of the Croagh Patrick quartzite.
All work will be finished by hand, with the use of excavators kept to a minimum as a means of reducing the potential for health and safety conflicts with continued public use of Croagh Patrick.
Although Croagh Patrick requires a unique solution to path repair and habitat restoration, it can provide an excellent opportunity for training workers in the range of skills that are required for upland path maintenance and development which are not currently readily available either locally or nationally.
In parallel with the efforts to reduce the physical damage to Croagh Patrick, measures will be put in place to help reduce the pressure on the mountain so that the experience for every visitor is as high as possible. This will involve an ongoing programme promoting appropriate use, managing expectations and encouraging people to consider their potential impact on Croagh Patrick as well as helping them to understand the historical and cultural significance of the mountain, through interpretation.
Speaking of the funding allocation Martin Keating Head of Environment, Climate Change and Agriculture at Mayo County Council said, “We are delighted that the funding has been secured and announced for the sustainable access works and habitat restoration on Croagh Patrick.
"Over the past five years, Mayo County Council, the Department of Rural and Community Development and Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group have worked together, with consultants and contractors from in Scotland, England and Ireland, to devise a Pilgrim Path repair and restoration plan, which will ensure the mountain is maintained and managed sustainably into the future. The Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group will now commence putting arrangements in place to implement the plans.”