He is called by some St. Barrus, or Barrocus. He lived in the sixth century, 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. 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. St. Nessan, who succeeded St. Finbarr in his school, and built the town of Cork, was another eminent disciple, trained up under his disciple, 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 Aeda o Mugin, a famous bishop of Cork, in 1170 who so much increased this house as to be regarded as its principal founder.
(Adapted from Fr. Butler’s Lives of the Saints)