St Finbarr

St Finbarr

About the Man

Born in the second half of the 6th century AD, in Achaid Duborcon near Crookstown, Co. Cork, to a slave girl and her metalworker husband from Connacht, who had moved to Munster to find work, St Finbarr (also known as Barra) is the patron saint of Cork.

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

St Finbarr died at Cloyne in 633 AD and his remains were taken to Cork to be enclosed in a silver shrine in what is now St Finbarr’s Cathedral - well worth a visit.

Finbarr’s feast/pattern day is 25th September and is celebrated here every year on the Sunday following, on the island in Gougane Barra where a mass is held and the local pipe band plays.

The motto of University College Cork (UCC) is:

'Where Finbarr taught, let Munster learn’

The Legend around St Finbarr

Among many wondrous tales associated with him, he is said to have been 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 as the beast fled, Lú created the channel which is now the River Lee.