The tiny village of Fenagh is also the site of one of the oldest monastic communities in Ireland. St. Caillan founded the monastery here in the fifth century. According to the Book of Fenagh, he came from Dunmore in County Galway. The O’Rourke family gave him the land for the monastery. The Journals of the Four Masters indicate that Fenagh Abbey was once the site of a divinity school that was famous across the whole of Europe. The site is now occupied by the ruins of a church from the late medieval period.
The Book of Fenagh tells the story of Caillin, and was commissioned by the coarab of the monastery in 1516. It was written in Irish by a man named O’Maolchonaire and is now housed at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. English translations were published in 1875 and 1939. It recounts the events surrounding the Irish chieftains and their relationship with Caillin. They provided material provisions in return for Caillin’s spiritual intercessions, which insured the continued health and prosperity of their tribes.