Barrett/Scottish Saints/St. Barr

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Dom Michael Barrett

September 25 – St. Barr or Finbar, Bishop, 6th century.

He was born in Connaught and was the founder of a celebrated monastery and school on an island in Lough Eirce (now known as Gougane-Barra), in County Cork, and to this house, says Colgan in his Acta Sanctorum, so many came through zeal for a holy life that it changed a desert into a great city.

St. Finbar became the first Bishop of Cork, where he founded a monastery almost as famous as the former. St. Finbar, like so many Irish saints, made a pilgrimage to Rome. Missionary zeal led him later on to Scotland, and for some time he laboured in Kintyre.

Devotion to St. Barr was very great in Catholic Scotland, as numerous dedications attest. His churches are chiefly to be found on solitary islands, which seem to have had a special attraction for him. Thus in the parish of Kilkerran, Kintyre, is an island now known as Davar; it was formerly called St. Barre's Island. The island of Barra takes its name from him; traces of his cultus lingered on there long after the Reformation. At Kilbar (sometimes called Shilbar), for example, an image of the saint, which was long preserved, used to be clothed with a linen robe on his feast-day in comparatively recent times. Other curious customs also prevailed in the island in connection with him; his holy well is there. St. Barr was the patron saint of the churches of Dornoch, and of Eddleston (Peebles-shire); at both places a fair was annually held on his feast-day. In Ayrshire is the parish of Barr, and in Forfarshire that of Inch bare. At Midd Genie, in Tarbat, is Chapel Barre.

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