Fore Abbey & the 7 Wonders

In a tranquil, green valley, the tiny village of Fore is home to the remains of St Fechin’s 7th-century monastic settlement, the largest Benedictine site in Ireland, where 300 monks once lived. Later, the monastery was set on fire an incredible 12 times with many fascinating stories left as a legacy.

Among the remains on site, is St Fechin’s church, built about 900 AD and visitors take on the challenge to find the 18 Fore crosses, which are spread out over 10 kilometres on roadways and in fields.

Seven Wonders of Fore

The fabled Seven Wonders of Fore are “miracles” associated with St Fechin are as follows:

  • The Monastery Built upon the Bog - The early monastic site is actually located above Fore valley, but the later 13th-century Benedictine foundation was built on the valley floor, in the boggy area created by the flowing water from Lough Lene.
  • The Mill without a Race - St. Féichín famously built his mill where there was no water and after the mill was completed, the saint thrust his crozier into the ground and the water from Lough Lene began to flow. His carpenter who was sleeping in the mill, was drowned in the deluge but St. Féichín restored him to life.
  • The Water that Flows Uphill - This 'wonder' relates to St Féichín's discovery of water to power the mill. This water came from a stream that flows underground through limestone from the nearby Lough Lene before springing up in the valley beside the ancient church. The point at which the water emerges is actually higher in elevation than the stream's origin. 
  • The Tree that Won’t Burn - Also known as “The Tree with Three Branches,” this ancient ash tree was also named “The Money Tree” since many generations of pilgrims hammered copper coins into its bark.
  • The Water that Doesn’t Boil  - Of two holy wells associated with St. Féichín that are said to heal the sick, the waters of one of these, known as Tobernacogany is said to contain water that will not boil and stories are told of the terrible misfortunes that befell those who have tried.
  • The Anchorite in a Stone - Inside the 15th-century tower is the retreat of the last religious hermit in Ireland. The hermit never left this cell, praying and meditating in this small dark space, with food and water brought to him by local supporters and it is said that his body is “hidden in the hollow heap of stones” inside.
  • The Lintel Stone Raised by St. Féichín’s Prayers - When building the church workmen struggled to raise the massive 2.27-tonne (2.5-ton), 183-cm (6-ft) long lintel stone, but while they took a break, St. Féichín managed to place it over the doorway by himself with only his prayers.

You won’t doubt the curious nature of this place as you find each intriguing wonder and the tale behind it. St. Feichin’s Way, a 3km Looped Walk around the site, allows visitors to explore each of the places of interest, while soaking in the natural and historic landscape.

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Address: Fore, Westmeath
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Sacred Ireland
Fore Abbey & the 7 Wonders