Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Barr, or Finbarr, First Bishop of Cork, Confessor

[Saint Finbarr, Bishop]Article

He is called by some Saint Barrus, or Barrocus. He lived in the sixth age; was a native of Connaught, and instituted a monastery or school at Lough Eirc, to which, as to the habitation of wisdom, and the sanctuary of all virtues, such numbers of disciples flocked, as changed, as it were, a desert into a large city. This was the origin of the city of Cork, which was built chiefly upon stakes, in marshy little islands formed by the river Lee. Saint Finbarr’s disciple, Saint Colman, son of Lenin, founded the famous episcopal see of Cloyne, of which he was the first bishop: he died on the 4th of November, in 604. Saint Nessan, who succeeded Saint Finbarr in his school, and built the town of Cork, was another eminent disciple, trained up under his discipline, and is honoured at Cork, on the 17th of March and 1st of December. Sir James Ware and Tanner take notice, that some, with a MS. copy in the king’s library at London, ascribe to Saint Finbarr a letter on the ceremonies of baptism, printed among the works of Alcuin. The right name of our saint, under which he was baptized, was Lochan; the surname Finbarr, or Barr the White, was afterwards given him. He was bishop of Cork seventeen years, and died in the midst of his friends at Cloyne, fifteen miles from Cork. His body was buried in his own cathedral at Cork, and his relics, some years after, were put in a silver shrine, and kept there, this great church bearing his name to this day. Saint Finbarr’s cave or hermitage was shown in a monastery which seems to have been begun by our saint, and stood to the west of Cork. It was afterwards given to the canons regular of Saint Austin, and was called Gill Abbey, from Gill Æda ô Mugin, a famous bishop of Cork, in 1170, who so much increased this house as to be regarded as its principal founder. On Saint Finbarr see his manuscript life in Trinity College, Dublin.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Barr, or Finbarr, First Bishop of Cork, Confessor”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 September 2013. Web. 22 September 2020. <>