St. Fintan was born near Clonenagh at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mts in Co.Laois around the year 525 A.D. Clonenagh in those days was a serene and tranquil place - an ideal location for a monastery. St. Fintan, on recognising this, founded a monastery here, which became a famous and popular seat of prayer, learning and education. He was the first abbot, where students came from near and far, from Europe and even further afield to study. Today however, no trace of the monastery exists; only some hills in nearby fields where it is said some of the churches were situated.
"St. Fintan's Tree" at Clonenagh was a very famous Laois landmark for many years. A well sprung up in one of its crevices, when a local farmer refused to allow people to visit a holy well on his land. The well miraculously transformed to the tree, it later became known as "the money tree" as people hammered coins into its bark for some intention. Up until a few years ago the tree could be seen on the main Mountrath to Portlaoise roadside until it was blown down in a storm.
A few kilometres from Tobar an Léinn is "St. Fintan's Well" in Cromogue. St. Fintan was travelling from Mountmellick to Clonenagh carrying a bucket of water and anywhere water fell a spring appeared. Today it is a tranquil place of prayer, reflection and pilgrimage. Legend tells that there is a one-eyed trout in the well and on seeing it, your wish would be granted.
St.Fintan died in the year 603 A.D. and is said to be buried in his native Clonenagh. His feast day is celebrated every year on February 17th.
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