The Anchorite Cell Chapel, Fore. County Westmeath            1830

This little church is known as The Anchorite Cell Chapel and is part of the Fore Abbey complex. The original monastery here was founded by St Feichin in 630 and later expanded to have up to 300 monks and 2000 students living in its grounds. The abbey was also ‘rich pickings’ as it was recorded to have been burned and attacked 12 times between 771 and 1169 by both the Vikings hoards and Gaelic clans. Later during the medieval period Fore Abbey was often looted by the English authorities as its contents were classified as ‘alien property’. This was due to the strong ties that the abbey had with France especially when England was at war with them. The little building beside the chapel is the anchorite cell that gives the chapel its name. This building was occupied by hermits until the 17th century and a small plaque inside commemorates Patrick Beglan, the very last hermit known in Ireland who occupied the cell in 1616. An anchorite is one who lives the reclusive life of a hermit for religious reasons.