Planning Your Visit to Ireland? Walk in the Footsteps of St Féichín at Fore

St Féichín’s Way is a 3km loop walk around the ancient monastic settlement at Fore. It takes in a selection of the historic sites associated with the monastery, such as the holy well known as St Féichín’s Bath, thought to be the remains of an ancient cist burial; the Columbarium; the Gate House; Gallows Hill, and the Rejected Stone, and a motte and bailey site, as well as areas of natural beauty, like the buzzard habitat, the 300 year old beech tree, the oak plantation, and the daffodil walk.

Fore comes from the Irish Fhobhair, meaning ‘the town of the water springs’. The monastery was founded there by St Féichín in 630AD, where it is said  there were as many as three hundred monks and two thousand students in residence at any one time, so it was quite a busy and thriving community in its heyday.


 


Now, there is little evidence remaining of the early settlement. The ruined church on the hillside to the right of the road as you approach the car park is the oldest structure still standing, and dates to the 900s. This is a very plain and simple little building. Its most significant feature is the huge lintel above the west doorway, weighing about seven tons, which is decorated with a Greek cross. Legend has it that St Féichín raised it into its position purely by the strength of his prayers.


 


The impressive jaw-dropping building on the valley floor to the left of the road is the remains of the Benedictine Priory established by Anglo-Norman Lord Hugh de Lacey in the 1200s. It must have been something to see! This structure was fortified with defensive towers during the fifteenth century; you will recognise them by the narrow arrow slits in the walls. Reconstruction also took place in various locations across the site during the 1900s.


 


Fore is most famous, however, for its Seven Wonders. These are:


The Monastery Built upon the Bog

The thirteenth century Benedictine Priory is founded on the boggy valley floor, which shouldn’t have been able to support such a structure.

The Mill Without a Race

St Féichín built his mill on a site without flowing water. When he struck his staff into the ground, water began to bubble up and operate the mill.

The Water that Flows Uphill

Apparently, an optical illusion makes the stream brought forth by the saint’s staff appear to flow uphill.

The Tree that Won’t Burn

This was said of an ancient ash tree which stood beside one of the holy wells. Many visitors over the years had hammered coins into its trunk, which is probably responsible for poisoning the tree, sadly long since gone.

The Water that Doesn’t Boil

There are two holy wells at the site. The water has curative properties, and curiously, is reputed to be impossible to boil. Bad fortune comes to he who tries.

The Anchorite In a Stone

Above the church on the hill of Carrick Balor is a fifteenth century tower which covers the anchorite’s cell. The anchorite was a hermit who never left his cell but spent his days in religious devotion. The last hermit to live there was Patrick Beglin, who fell and broke his neck when he tried to leave his cell.

The Lintel Stone Raised by St. Féichin’s Prayers

See above.



I would highly recommend this site and the walking trail, because there is something here for everyone: archaeology, history and mythology for the adults, beautiful scenery, plenty of pic-nic tables along the route, and fun things for children along the way. The path is wide and well constructed, but you’d need an all-terrain buggy or wheelchair, as it varies from hard-packed earth, to mown grass, to gravel, and there are one or two short steep stretches.


You can find the monastic settlement of Fore not far from Mullingar in Co. Westmeath. From Castlepollard take the R195; after five minutes drive you will see Fore signposted on your right.Parking and visits to the site are FREE. 😊


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29 Comments on “Planning Your Visit to Ireland? Walk in the Footsteps of St Féichín at Fore

  1. Wonderful post, Ali1! I could feel the calm quiet of the place just reading your descriptions. I am really hoping I can make it back to Ireland. Since I don’t have vacation this year, I’m looking at 2019. My friend and I are still talking about making it happen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That would be wonderful, Eilis! I hope you do make it over, and this time I insist on meeting up even if just for a quick chat and coffee! I’m aware how precious and stuffed full these visits are though, so I wouldn’t demand much of your time. 😀

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      • I wouldn’t leave without meeting you. We will figure something out, coffee or maybe we can even make an afternoon of it. I really want to finally meet you. 😃

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          • Yes, and I love it! I’m having so much fun. I really enjoy working, helping other people and being part of a team. I even get to start helping to plan a program this week, I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. I have wanted to do something like that for a long time. The brailling part is really easy, I like having multiple kinds of things to be working on. It makes my time interesting. I have a long weekend so hopefully I’ll be able to write you off line 2.

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            • Oh Éilis that makes me so happy to hear that! What wonderful news. Enjoy your weekend, no pressure from Me, but I would love to hear more about it when you have time. 😊😙

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Like all historical places with ruins, to walk in and feel the work of ‘artists’ from centuries ago is a rush ~ and along with a past well I enjoyed reading about on your blog, the St Féichín’s Bath is now also on my list 🙂 but the real highlight is just to walk about the Church of St Féichín, great photographs Ali, wonderful post.

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    • Thank you Randal, but I am embarrassed that you were looking at my photos. One day I will do a photography course, so I can take better pictures, but I have enough going on right now. Thank you for dropping by, its always lovely to read your comments. 😁 If you ever come to Ireland, I recommend this place, it was so lovely and serene and so full of stories. I could almost see the monks walking about in their robes, and the community toiling in the fields.

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    • It really is, Roy, and some lovely stories about the place too. In fact, I’m planning a longer more detailed post, because I had to leave out so much.

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    • Thanks Nick! I didn’t want to leave. A local man told me that the village of Fore was moved to it’s current site in the 19th century due to frequent flooding, and that you can still see the foundations of buildings in the original site, as well as where the river disappears into a cleft of rock and seems to run uphill. I’ll have to go back and check that out another time. Of course he could have just been spinning me yarn, but if I don’t go, I won’t know… Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe you will one day, Diana. Going back in time, well that’s another matter, but who knows what might one day be possible? For now, we’ll have to rely on our dreams, our imaginations, and the movies. 🤣

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    • Hi Michael, it’s a lovely peaceful place to visit. I was there yesterday till about 2pm and there were a few people about, but it felt like I had the place to myself. I highly recommend it. I’m sure you will take far better pictures than me, judging by your website! Your images are Beautiful! 😊

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