Gougane Barra and St. Finbarr (also called Barra)


St. Finbarr is the patron saint of Cork, he was born in Achaid Duborcon near Crookstown, Co. Cork, the son of a Connacht father, a metalworker, who moved to Munster to find work and married a slave girl.

Finbarr left home with three unidentified ascetics and spent time in Scotland, including time on the Isle of Barra, before establishing various hermitages in his native area, notably at Kilclooney and on an island here in Gougane Barra, which bears his name. As always the monks chose well.

Among many wondrous tales associated with him, is one in which he is led by an angel from the source of the river Lee at Gougane Barra to its marshy mouth, where he founded his most important monastery, ‘out of which grew the see and the city of Cork’. Legend has it that Finbarr banished the great serpent Lú from the lake here, and in doing so, Lú created the channel which is now the river Lee.

St. Finbarr died at Cloyne in 633 A.D. and his remains were taken to Cork to be enclosed in a silver shrine in what is now St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, which is well worth a visit.
Finbarr’s feast/pattern day is the 25th of September and is celebrated on the following Sunday with the local pipe band and mass on the island in Gougane Barra.

'Where Finbarr taught, let Munster learn’  
This is the motto of University College Cork (UCC)