Barefoot penance is one of the oldest recorded forms of penance and is still practiced regularly by many Irish Catholics to this day.
Mt. Croagh Patrick is the most important Catholic pilgrimage destination in Ireland. Nearly one million visitors, most of them pilgrims, climb to the top every year. Almost 30,000 pilgrims make the trek on the last Sunday in July, known as "Reek Sunday."
For most Catholics who visit Mt. Croagh Patrick, especially on Reek Sunday, the pilgrimage to the top of the sacred mountain is an act of penance. Accordingly, some untake the journey barefoot or even on their knees. The summit has a small chapel where Mass is held each day.
The full pilgrimage route originates in the village of Murrisk, 8km outside Westport. The first main sight on the pilgrimage path is a statue of St. Patrick, erected in 1928 by a Westport pastor. Although it is not one of the official stations (see below), it has become a place of prayer and makes a good goal for those not able to climb all the way to the top.
There are three pilgrimage stations on the way to the summit of Croagh Patrick, each of which has a sign with instructions for the proper rituals and prayers. The stations are as follows:
First Station (Leacht Benáin): Base of the Mountain
Walk 7 times around the mound of stones while saying: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed
Second Station: The Summit
Kneel and say: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed
Pray near the chapel for the Pope's intentions.
Walk 15 times around the chapel while saying: 15 Our Fathers, 15 Hail Marys
Walk 7 times around Leaba Phádraig (Patrick's Bed) saying: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed
Third Station: Roilig Mhuire
Walk 7 times around each mound of stones saying: 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Marys, 1 Creed
Walk 7 times around the whole enclosure of Roilig Mhuire praying.