MEMBERS of the public have been warned not to climb Croagh Patrick this weekend due to concerns about Covid-19.
Many people who attempt the climb need to be rescued, and Mayo Mountain Rescue (MMR), a group that is part of the Reek Sunday Organising Forum, have warned that help will be hard to come by after the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Traditionally, people would flock to the Mayo mountain on the last Sunday of July - known as Reek Sunday - and journey to the top to pay homage to the pilgrims who walked to the peak and spent 40 days fasting there in the year 441.
Up to 25,000 'pilgrims' typically complete the hike on Reek Sunday every year, and despite the event being officially cancelled, many more are expected to make the trip this year too.
Roughly 125 rescue workers are on hand to aid any struggling hikers, but none of them will be on hand this Sunday.
Cameron Clotworthy, a member of MMR, explained that rescue operations are more complicated and take longer than normal in current times.
"We're restricted in how we can operate so we can’t be up on the mountain necessarily like we normally are there, ready to go. So we will only be operating on 999/112 to be tasked by An Garda Síochána."
Clotworthy added that team members "can’t mix for long periods and wait around"like they could in previous years, due to social distancing rules.
He said the team has been "busy" this week and has already been involved in two rescues on Croagh Patrick.