Betha Féchín Fabair ‘The life of Féchín of Fore’

Nicól Óg
  • Early Modern Irish
  • prose
  • Irish hagiography

Irish Life of St Féchín of Fore. According to a note in the manuscript (NLI MS G 5), it is based on a Latin work and was translated into Irish by Nicól Óg, abbot of Cong.

Nicól ÓgNicól Óg
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According to a colophon in NLI G 50, the text represents a translation from Latin into Irish that was undertaken by Nicól Óg, son of the abbot of Cong.
ff. 1r–5v
Followed by an Irish homily on the saint.
cols 1a*–2b*, 125–128
Fragments of a version unknown to Stokes at the time when he published his edition.
According to the catalogue description, Eugene O’Curry made a transcript that was annexed to the manuscript.
As Stokes remarks, three manuscript copies of a vernacular life were known to John Colgan:
or Book of Imaidh (Omey) in Connacht. Prose.
one stylo planè vetusto et magnae fidei, which lacked the beginning and end of the text. Prose.
another vetusto et eleganti metro, 74 distichis constante, in quorum paenè singulis singula narrantur miracula. Metrical version.
A copy which by the early 16th century was still present in the library of the earl of Kildare (Ó Riain)
  • Early Modern Irish
prose (primary)
verse (secondary)
Textual relationships
Related: Alia vita seu supplementum vitae sancti Fechini ex MSS HibernicisAlia vita seu supplementum vitae sancti Fechini ex MSS Hibernicis

The second vita of St Féchín printed by John Colgan in his Acta sanctorum Hiberniae. Colgan made use of three Irish sources, which he conflated and translated into Latin to produce a composite text. The first life he found in a manuscript associated with Féchín's monastery in the island of Omey (vnam fusam ex Codice Immaciensi in Connacia, quam eius compilator aliàs recentior ... indicat ... desumptam esse ex alia latina); the second life is described as aliam habemus stylo plane uetusto et magnae fidei, sed principio et fine carentem. Plummer suggests that these lives must have corresponded to the vernacular life and homily found in NLI MS G 5. The third source is a metrical version now lost (tertiam uero uetusto et eleganti metro lxxiv distichis constante).


Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography

Irish hagiographyIrish hagiography


Féchín of Fore
Féchín of Fore
(d. c. 665)
Fé(i)chín moccu Cháe, patron saint of Fobar (Fore, Co. Westmeath)

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Primary sources Text editions and/or modern translations – in whole or in part – along with publications containing additions and corrections, if known. Diplomatic editions, facsimiles and digital image reproductions of the manuscripts are not always listed here but may be found in entries for the relevant manuscripts. For historical purposes, early editions, transcriptions and translations are not excluded, even if their reliability does not meet modern standards.

[ed.] [tr.] Stokes, Whitley [ed. and tr.], “Life of S. Fechín of Fore”, Revue Celtique 12 (1891): 318–353.
CELT – edition with introduction: <link> CELT – translation: <link> Internet Archive: <link>
320–339 (followed by a homily on the saint) Based on NLI G 5. Most of the poems have been omitted.

Secondary sources (select)

Ó Riain, Pádraig, A dictionary of Irish saints, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011.  
Scarcely a parish in Ireland is without one or more dedications to saints, in the form of churches in ruins, holy wells or other ecclesiastical monuments. This book is a guide to the (mainly documentary) sources of information on the saints named in these dedications, for those who have an interest in them, scholarly or otherwise. The need for a summary biographical dictionary of Irish saints, containing information on such matters as feastdays, localisations, chronology, and genealogies, although stressed over sixty years ago by the eminent Jesuit and Bollandist scholar, Paul Grosjean, has never before been satisfied. Professor Ó Riain has been working in the field of Irish hagiography for upwards of forty years, and the material for the over 1,000 entries in his Dictionary has come from a variety of sources, including Lives of the saints, martyrologies, genealogies of the saints, shorter tracts on the saints (some of them accessible only in manuscripts), annals, annates, collections of folklore, Ordnance Survey letters, and other documents. Running to almost 700 pages, the body of the Dictionary is preceded by a preface, list of sources and introduction, and is followed by comprehensive indices of parishes, other places (mainly townlands), alternate (mainly anglicised) names, subjects, and feastdays.
309–311 [‘Féichín of Fore’]
Dennis Groenewegen, Patrick Brown
Page created
May 2011, last updated: January 2024