2023 MPA Nominee –
Croagh Patrick Sustainable Access and Habitat Restoration
Healing path erosion scars along with habitat restoration
The Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group was formed as a community response to concerns over erosion of the main path on the mountain. The diverse group of organisations found a sense of shared purpose by putting the mountain first and working together to identify the best solution for Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s most famous mountain.
View of UIAA MPA Assessor
The project in itself is well conducted and anchored within the local community. In the current state, Croagh Patrick Restoration focuses on maintenance and, in particular educating the many visitors on aspects of sustainably enjoying the Croagh Patrick path and mountain surroundings. As a result of a better pathway to the summit, the Stakeholders Group will also need to look at the impact of the restoration and propose solutions for increased traffic, parking and waste management.
Vision, goals and aim of the project:
More details on the project + project status as per May 2023
Croagh Patrick is possibly Ireland’s most famous mountain, it rises 764m from sea level to a shapely quartzite peak on Ireland’s west coast. Known as Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, has a church on the summit and a history of pilgrimage going back more than 1,500 years.
The long history of human connection with Croagh Patrick has been increasingly visible through a wide erosion scar resulting from the cumulative footfall of pilgrims, hikers and tourists drawn to this iconic mountain. Recognising that the impact of hiking has added to the damage on Croagh Patrick, Mountaineering Ireland, the national representative body for hillwalkers and climbers, worked with other organisations to find a solution.
The aim of the Sustainable Access and Habitat Restoration project, started in December 2020 and with a planned end in late 2023, is to address the erosion on Croagh Patrick through specialised path repair and development, along with habitat restoration work to heal the erosion scar.
The Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group was formed in November 2015 as a community response to concerns over erosion of the main path on the mountain. The diverse group of organisations, including Mountaineering Ireland, found a sense of shared purpose by putting the mountain first and working together to identify the best solution for Croagh Patrick.
The group has worked steadily to develop and deliver a repair solution for the mountain, while also addressing related issues such as the impact of path erosion on water quality, the management of large-scale events, and the concern of shareholders on the mountain about their potential exposure to liability.
The small size of the quartzite scree on the steep summit cone of Croagh Patrick, and a shared desire to arrive at a solution that looks natural in the landscape, led the group to develop a unique style of stone pitching.
In 2020, after five years of stakeholder engagement, surveys and assessments, the Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group secured funding, from the Department of Rural & Community Development and Mayo County Councill, to employ an experienced upland path manager and to train a team of four path workers. The work of the Croagh Patrick path team has set the standard of work for addressing upland path erosion in Ireland. The training-led approach in the Croagh Patrick Path project means the legacy from this project includes a team of highly skilled path workers. The path team has been supported by Mountaineering Ireland volunteers who work with the path team on one day each week.
Please note that the content published in this article is courtesy of the Award nominee. The UIAA has made minor revisions to the original submission. To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.