There is a valley among the rolling hills in Co. Westmeath, and nestled in that valley is a village called Fore. There is archaeological and natural heritage to be discovered and these are preserved in the valley, which had not seen too much development since the time of Hugh de Lacy, whom in the 13th century built a Benedictine priory in the valley nearby. But all this has changed to my great surprise and delight. I had only been there once since 2004, when my sons were teenagers, and today I found so many new aspects to explore.
Recently, a new road system has been developed and if you follow Google Maps it will bring you to this new road which makes getting there much easier. There has also been a new walk created, from the ruins of Fore Abbey you can take the route “Nancy 2 Nellie” which is delightful. Uphill, downhill and through the Fairy Fort it is a most pleasant walkway and anyone should be able for it.
Upon finishing this lovely walk you can enjoy a coffee served by Jane in the Fore Coffee Shop. Jane is a lovely lady, eager to please, very knowledgable in local history, and like so many Irish people, loves to chat, don’t leave without sampling her carrot cake!
The Anchorite’s Cell is the small tower with attached chapel that lies further up the hill beyond St. Fechin’s Church. An Anchorite is also described a a place for hermits, men who chose a life of solitude and prayer. In the small chapel attached to the tower lies the remains of the Nugent family of Delvin, Earls of Westmeath.
St Feichin founded a Christian monastery in the seventh century AD. It is believed that, before Feichin’s death, 300 monks lived in the community. Sadly years later, the monastery was burned several times, but it remains today a reminder of times past and human effort.
Fore is a lovely place to visit and will not tax you in relation to time or effort. Make sure to take the Nancy 2 Nellie walk, it is a must for all children, big and small, who love Fairies, and being Irish, it is a very important part of my folklore