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Things to do

Fore Abbey

The first aspects of Fore Abbey in County Westmeath that strike any visitor are "size" and "location". The ruins are simply massive, an impression further enhanced by their almost solitary location in a picturesque valley. Fore Abbey is easily accessible by car, but far away from the road and car park to create a feeling of "getting away from it all".

The way from the car park to the abbey ruins is also interesting in its own right. You will pass a medieval mill (albeit in ruins) and two "holy wells". Nearby trees decorated with votive pieces of cloth bear witness to an ongoing tradition mixing religious beliefs and folklore.

When you finally reach the abbey walls you might notice a certain military appearance. Which is no accident - the outer walls were actually designed to be defendable against unwelcome visitors. Arrow slits and a murderous layout of the gateway remind us that Ireland's history was troubled at the best of times.

Explore the abbey at your leisure - but do not forget to climb up to the tower-like structure on a nearby hill. Here the monks bred and kept their pigeons - today it provides a great view of the abbey and the whole valley.

Upon leaving the abbey and returning to the car park you will walk straight towards two churches clinging to a (quite steep) hillside on the other side of the road. The church on the left is medieval and has a (reputed) connection to Saint Feichim of Fore. The church on the right is more recent and an exercise in creating a folly - a jumble of architectural styles with a charm of its own.