Fenagh is a village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

 in County Leitrim
County Leitrim
County Leitrim is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Leitrim. Leitrim County Council is the local authority for the county...

, northwest Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It is on the R202
R202 road
The R202 road is a regional road in Ireland linking Dromod in County Leitrim to Swanlinbar in County Cavan.En route it passes through Mohill and Ballinamore.The road is long.-References:* – Department of Transport...

, between Ballinamore
Ballinamore is a small town in County Leitrim, Ireland, from the border with Northern Ireland. It is located on the R202 regional road where it is joined by the R199 and R204. means "mouth of the big ford", and the town is so named because it was the main crossing point of the Yellow River,...

 and Mohill
Mohill is a town in County Leitrim, Ireland. The town is located in the south of the county, north of the midlands of Ireland. The town of Carrick-on-Shannon is approximately 16 km away....



The area was the site of the battle of Fidhnacha in 1094.

Fenagh Abbey is one of the oldest monastic sites in Ireland, believed to date back to the earliest period of Celtic monasticism. The founder was St. Caillín, thought to have arrived in Fenagh from Dunmore in County Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

 in the 5th century (according to the Book of Fenagh). The Abbey had a monastic school; the Annals of the Four Masters
Annals of the Four Masters
The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland or the Annals of the Four Masters are a chronicle of medieval Irish history...

states that the monastery at Fenagh was "celebrated for its divinity school, which was resorted to by students from every part of Europe".

Magnus, son of Muirchertach Muimnech (from the Annals of Connacht
Annals of Connacht
The Annals of Connacht, covering the years 1224 to 1544, are drawn from a manuscript compiled in the 15th and 16th centuries by at least three scribes, all believed to be members of the Clan Ó Duibhgeannáin....

), wrote in 1244:
Fedlimid mac Cathail Chrobdeirg made an immense hosting eastwards into Brefne against O Raigillig, to avenge his fosterson and kinsman, Tadc O Conchobair. They encamped for a night at Fenagh. At that time there was no roof on the church of Fenagh, and the coarb was away that night. And as he was not present, the common soldiers of the host burned the huts and tents which were inside the church, without permission of their leaders, and the coarb's foster-child, God's gift, was suffocated. Now learned men relate that the coarb received this foster-child by finding him on a large stone which stood in that place, and [the people] never knew of his having either mother or father; and the coarb loved him and gave him, as it is said, milk from his own breasts. Next day he came to them in anger and indignation at the death of the boy, requiring O Conchobair to pay the blood-fine for his foster-child, and O Conchobair said he could choose what fine he pleased. ‘I choose’ said he ‘the best man among you, as compensation for the child of God whom you have burnt.’ ‘That’ said O Conchobair ‘is Magnus, the son of Muirchertach Muimnech.’ ‘Nay, not so,’ said Magnus ‘but he who is leader of the host.’ ‘I will not go from you so’ said the coarb ‘until I get the fine for my foster-child.’ After this the host departed from that place, and the coarb followed them to Ath na Cuirre on the Yellow River, which was flowing over its banks, so that they could not cross it till they broke up the spital-house of John the Baptist, which stood beside the ford, and used its materials to bridge the river for the host to pass across. Magnus son of Muirchertach Muimnech and Conchobar son of Cormac Mac Diarmata went into the house, and Magnus spoke to a man who was above him, at work on the house-breaking; ‘That’ said he, pointing upwards with the chape of his sword, ‘is the nail which keeps the house from falling.’ As he spoke, a rafter(?) fell on his head and smashed it to pieces on the spot. He was buried outside the doorway of the church of Fenagh, and thrice the capacity of the Bell of the Kings of silver and thirty horses were given as an offering with him. Thus, then, did the coarb of St. Caillin at last recover compensation for his fosterling of God from them. A beautiful monument of carved stone with an excellently wrought stone cross was afterwards made [and set up] over him, but after a while the Ui Ruairc in their enmity demolished it.

Notable residents

  • The writer John McGahern
    John McGahern
    John McGahern was one of the most important Irish authors of the latter half of the twentieth century. Before his death in 2006 he was hailed as "the greatest living Irish novelist" by The Observer.-Life:...

     lived, wrote and farmed in Fenagh for the last 30 years of his life. Much of his inspiration for Amongst Women, That they May Face the Rising Sun and Memoir comes from the area.
  • John Ellis
    John Ellis (Irish politician)
    John Ellis is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician, who was a Teachta Dála and Senator from 1981 to 2011.Born in Fenagh, County Leitrim, Ellis was a farmer and businessman before entering politics...

    , politician
  • Colm McKeon, sportsman
  • Mo, the man, Fenagh is his home town.

Rail transport

The Fenagh railway station opened on 24 October 1887 and closed on 1 April 1959. It was part of the narrow-gauge Cavan and Leitrim Railway
Cavan and Leitrim Railway
The Cavan & Leitrim Railway was a narrow-gauge railway in the counties of Leitrim and Cavan in the north-west of Ireland, which ran from 1887 until 1959.Unusually for Ireland, this 914mm -gauge line survived on coal traffic, from the mine at Arigna...


Fenagh Abbey

At Fenagh, two church ruins stand on the site of an earlier monastery founded by St. Caillin in the 6th century. The main ruins of the Gothic church have (among other features) an east window of unusual design and a relief-carved 17th-century penal cross. A number of standing stones in the vicinity represent the petrified bodies of druids who tried to expel St. Caillin from Fenagh. There are a number of other prehistoric remains located in or near the village. A portal tomb
A dolmen—also known as a portal tomb, portal grave, dolmain , cromlech , anta , Hünengrab/Hünenbett , Adamra , Ispun , Hunebed , dös , goindol or quoit—is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of...

 at the north of the village is said to be the burial place of King Conall Gulban
Conall Gulban
Conall Gulban was an Irish king who founded the kingdom of Tír Conaill in the 5th century, comprising much of what is now County Donegal. He was the son of Niall Noígiallach....

. 19 Gaelic kings are said to be buried in the graveyard. There was also a divinity school at Fenagh. It is believed that community life continued until 1652, when Cromwellian soldiers sacked it. It was damaged by cannon fire during the Williamite wars in 1690, and the last service was said in 1729. The site is on the northern shore of Fenagh Lough.

Book of Fenagh

The Book of Fenagh was completed at the monastery in 1516, and a copy is now kept at the Royal Irish Academy
Royal Irish Academy
The Royal Irish Academy , based in Dublin, is an all-Ireland, independent, academic body that promotes study and excellence in the sciences, humanities and social sciences. It is one of Ireland's premier learned societies and cultural institutions and currently has around 420 Members, elected in...

. It contains a verse and prose "life" of St Caillin of Fenagh and additional poems from the lost Old Book of St. Caillin which are believed to be relevant to the politics of 11th- to 13th-century Tyrconnell; however, it is thought that they date from an earlier period than the rest of the manuscript.

See also

  • List of towns and villages in Ireland.
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