Fore Abbey ( Irish: Mainistir Fhobhair) is the old Benedictine Abbey ruin, situated to the north of Lough Lene in County Westmeath, Ireland. Fore village, (sister parish of nearby St. Mary's Collinstown) is situated within a valley between two hills: the Hill of Ben, the Hill of Houndslow, and the Anchorland rise area. There can be found the ruins of a Christian monastery, which had been populated at one time by French Benedictine monks from Évreux, Normandy. Fore, Fobhar is the anglicised version of the Irish name that signifies “the town of the water-springs” and was given to the area after Saint Feichin’s spring or well, which is next to the old church a short distance from where the ruined monastery still stands. It was St. Feichin who founded the ancient Fore Abbey around 630. By 665 (the time of the yellow plague) there were 300 monks living in the community.
A Benedictine Priory
In the 13th century the Hugh de Lacy the Norman and landlord built a Bendictine priory in the valley nearby. Many of the buildings that remain today (in ruins) are from the 15th century and have been restored throughout this century, making Fore Abbey the largest group of 300 Benedictine to have sojourned and remained in Ireland. This priory was dedicated to both St Feichin and St Taurin, the Evreux, Normandy abbot of the parent monastery.
- Its 13th century church still has some docorations and graceful arcaded cloisters.
- Attached to the church are the broken walls of two towers, where the monks once lived.
- Between 771 and 1169 Fore Abbey was burnt 12 times by pillaging invadors, such as the Turgesius lead Vikings.
- Its population is 16
Seven Wonders of Fore
The Abbey is also noted for what local populations call its seven wonders: The monastery built upon the bog. The mill without a race ( Lough Lene water flows from the hill). The water that flows uphill. The tree that has three branches/the tree that won’t burn. The water that doesn’t boil. The anchorite in a cell The lintel-stone raised by St. Fechin’s prayers. Another important aspect of Fore is the Fore Crosses one of which is in the village of Fore. There are 18 crosses; some crosses are plain (most likely to wind and rain erosion) whilst others still remain carved. These are spread out over 7 miles on roadways and in fields and bore witness to religious persecution during penal times.
Irish grid reference N508705 Statistics Province: Leinster County: County Westmeath Elevation: 90 m (300 ft)