Welcome to Murrisk
Murrisk is situated 8 km west of Westport town and 4 km east of the Church at Lecanvey.
Murrisk (Muraisc) is a little village at the foot of Croagh Patrick, which is one of Mayo's mountain pilgrimage sites. This little village is the starting-point of the pilgrimage to the Reek.
Every year the last Sunday in July people from all over Ireland and even from other countries, flock to Murrisk to take part in the annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, despite weather conditions up to 25,000 people complete the climb.
Thanks to improvements and facilities provided in the area by Murrisk Development Association, people climb the Reek on a daily basis.
Murrisk Development Association Ltd
A local community group in the area know as Murrisk Development Association Ltd, have an active voluntary committee, dedicated to improving the village for the betterment of all who live and visit the area. The Association is made up of various sub committees namely ;
The Association hold their meetings ( which are advertised in the Mayo News and the church newsletter) every second Tuesday night in Murrisk Community Centre at 9pm. Everyone is welcome to attend the meetings and all are encouraged to be involved in some way in the activities that are taking place.
The Croagh Patrick Information Centre is situated on the right hand side of the Pilgrim's Path at the base of Croagh Patrick and is open daily most of year.
Since becoming involved with the Tidy Town’s competition, Murrisk has steadily gained extra points year after year in the competition and in 1999 won the overall National Waterside Award.
Murrisk annual Pattern is usually held on the last or second last Sunday in August every year.
Starting with Mass at Murrisk Abbey there is a full day’s program of events to follows, e g Music is provided on stage by a band, with a dance platform at the front for dancing, Vintage show, cars/tractors and thrasher, Sheep Dog Trials, Sheep show, Children’s entertainment, Stalls with various themes from home produce to arts and crafts.
The building of a Community Center and car park at the base of the mountain has greatly facilitated locals and visitors to the area.
The Community centre is open daily during the day providing tea room and rest room to people who may have came down off the mountain, or tourists visiting the area, while at night it is used by the locals for meetings, socials and card games.
Garland Friday, Mass in Murrisk carpark
A section of the crowd of people attending 8.00pm Mass in Murrisk car park on Garland Friday.
Mass is celebrated in Murrisk car park on Garland Friday, the last Friday in July, this is to facilitate people who may not be able to participate in the climb on Reek Sunday. A large contingent of local people and people from surrounding areas attend, usually celebrated in the evening at 8.00pm.
On the shores of Clew Bay in the shadow of Ireland’s most holy mountain Croagh Patrick, still stands a famous Abbey founded in the second period of the 15th century by the Augustinian Friars. It‘s believed that as early as the 1050s a building existed on the site where Murrisk Abbey stands today, but no records have been found to prove it. Some additions were added during the 14th century to the externals of the Abbey. According to historical accounts the abbey was founded by Lady Maeve Ní Chonchubhair, wife of Lord Dermott O’Malley and mother of Tadhg O’Malley.
Thady O'Malley (who is believed to be the grandfather of Grace O'Malley, Clew Bay's famous "Pirate Queen”) who was a chieftain of that area, gave the Abbey to Father Hugh O'Malley of Corpus Christi, who had got permission in a letter from Pope Callistus III in 1457 to build a church and friary at Murrisk, near the foot of Croagh Patrick.
It‘s believed that the Augustinian Friars in Murrisk changed the pilgrimage path from its original route because they regularly used this route to go up the mountain to pray. (St.Patrick’s original route to Croagh Patrick "Tochar Phadraig") click here for more information
The monks established a great friendship with the people of the surrounding area and helped them with food and shelter when needed during their time in the Abbey.
Boher na Miasa
The narrow road from Campbells Pub leading to the Reek is known locally as Boher na miasa (meaning the road of the dishes)
It is so called because legend tells us that the Monks from the Augustinian Abbey nearby used to wash their utensils and crockery in the stream that runs alongside this narrow roadway.
Murrisk Abbey was just over 100 years in existence when in 1578 the lands belonging to it were leased to James Garvey, a brother of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh. Very little is known about the circumstances of the friars from 1570 to the early 1800's when Murrisk Abbey finally ceased to function, its believed that the remaining monks moved to Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo during that time.
Murrisk Abbey is now in ruins, but some stone maintenance was carried out to it in recent times, it is now under the Supervision of the National Monuments Service.
It is believed that the remains of the church at Glaspatrick, about 2 kilometers west on the Louisburgh road from Murrisk Abbey, is perhaps one of the churches built in the centre of the community of Murrisk after the coming of St Patrick to Ireland. The remains of the church at Glaspatrick are reduced to near foundation level, overgrown and in a poor state at the present time. Just the south wall which is built with large stones nearly 1.9m high and is the only significant wall left intact.
It is thought that due to its proportions that this church belongs to the medieval period probably the early 12th century.
The cemetery that surrounds this church is small, and was mainly used for the burial of islanders of Clew Bay and has been used in fairly recent years.
The headstone inscriptions span many decades, and the graveyard is still used for occasional burials.
A Holy Well still exists in the graveyard – situated beside the outer dry stone wall.
National Monuments, Famine Ship
The Famine Ship stands as a monument to all those that left our shores to go abroad, with many dying on the way.
National Famine Memorial
In 1996 the Irish Government invited nominations for a suitable location for a National Famine Memorial to commemorate the Great Famine.
The famine of 1845 to 1849, was arguably the single greatest disaster in Irish history. One million people died from disease and starvation.
Emigration accounted for the loss of another two million of Ireland’s population. Conditions aboard the ships transporting these already diseased and starving people resulted in the loss of so many lives that they became known as ‘Coffin Ships’
In late 1996 Murrisk was chosen as the appropriate site. John Behan, renowned sculptor, was commissioned by the Government to create a sculpture that would encompass the enormity of the loss and suffering endured by Ireland and its people. The composition of the National Famine Memorial, a bronze ship, with skeletal figures as its sails symbolises the many people who died in the ‘Coffin Ships’,
Forever landlocked, it also echoes the hopelessness of those who had no escape. President Mary Robinson unveiled the Memorial in July 1997.
Murrisk Millennium Peace Park
In 2000, funding from the National Millennium Committee was used to adopt
This Millennium Park is sympathetically landscaped to act as a fitting background to the Famine Memorial and heightens its stark and visual impact.
(Murrisk Development Association Ltd. Murrisk Tourism Brochure. Westport. 2005.)
Clew Bay Archaeological Trail
During 2002 / 2003 six local community groups came together and the Clew Bay Archaeological Trail was developed. This committee chose 21 archaeological sites that would form the trail that stretches from Westport through Murrisk and out to Clare Island. (The Clew Bay Archaeological Trail committee is made up of six local organisations including, Croagh Patrick Archaeological Committee; Louisburgh Community Council; Clare Island Development Committee; Westport Tourism Committee; Westport Chamber of Commerce and Murrisk Development Association Ltd). It was made possible by the generosity of private landowners, local parish and public authorities who all supported the project.
All of the sites chosen are close to roadways and all are signposted.
A guide-book was published giving the trail seeker an in-depth history and meaning of the sites.
In his foreword to the book the Cahtaoirleach of Mayo County Council spoke of this enlightened endeavour sparked by local initiative and with the full co-operation of the local community as a shining example of the way partnership was meant to serve the people.
(Hackett, Edel. Clew Bay Archaeological Trail. 2003. Westport).
The pilgrimage path from the Coast Guard Station, Rosmoney
For more information: www.croaghpatrick.com