SAINT BARR, OR FINBARR, FIRST BISHOP OF CORK, C.
HE is called by some St. 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 Lea. St. Finbarr’s
disciple, St. Caiman, 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. St. Nessan, who succeeded St. Finbarr in his
school, and built the town of Cork, was another eminent disciple,
trained up under his discipline, and is honored 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 St. 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 afterward 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. St. 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 afterward given
to the canons regular of St. 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 St. Finbarr see his MS. life in Trinity College, Dublin,
MS. 31, Giraldus Cambren. De Mirabilibus Hibern.1. 2, c. 49, Mr. Ch.
Smith. Ancient and Present State of Cork, t. 1, &c. t. Colgan in
MSS. ad 25 Sept.