Calling all Finbarrs: Church appeals to those sharing name of Cork’s patron saint on 1,400th anniversary

A special programme of events has been organised in Cork to mark St Fin Barre’s Day this year

Calling all Finbarrs and variants thereof: That is the clarion call going out this week from the Church of Ireland’s Dean of Cork, Rev Nigel Dunne, as St Fin Barre’s Cathedral prepares to mark 1,400 years since the death of Cork’s patron saint.

Rev Dunne explained that St Fin Barre’s Day is September 25th and this weekend there will be a programme of events at the cathedral to mark the anniversary of the saint’s death, who is known to have founded a monastery on the banks of the river Lee in 606.

“On Saturday, September 23rd, there is an open invitation to the people of Cork to make a visit to the cathedral, between the hours of 11am and 4pm, just to drop in, or on a mini-pilgrimage to mark this 1,400th anniversary, to say a prayer or light a candle, or, outside, to walk the cathedral labyrinth.”

Rev Dunne said that to coincide with the celebration, anyone named after Cork’s patron saint – in whatever spelling or form – would be most welcome at the William Burges designed cathedral where they will be presented with a small commemorative gift in honour of the occasion.


“So, if you are a Finbarr, Finbar, Finnbar, Finn Barre, Finbarre, Barry, Barrie, Baz or Fionbarra, etc we would love you to visit on this special occasion. If you can show us that you do carry his name, we have that small commemorative gift for you and look forward to welcoming you,” Rev Dunne said.

“To share the name of Cork’s patron saint is, to my mind, something special. It makes the person part of a 1,400-year-old tradition which lies at the heart of our city’s foundation.

“We look forward to welcoming many Finbarrs to the cathedral to be part of our commemorative festival weekend.”

Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton, explained that the idea for a programme of events to mark the 1,400th anniversary of St Fin Barre’s death came to him late last year while reading up on the saint who first built a small church in Gougane Barra before setting up a monastery in Cork.

“I was reading some historical material late last year and noticed the date and did the sums,” he recalled.

Bishop Colton explained that he and Rev Dunne began working on a modest programme of events last St Patrick’s Day and among their ideas was to commission a sacred icon of St Fin Barre to mark the anniversary.

“What we are really celebrating, of course, is the contemporary life of faith in this part of the world to which St Fin Barre brought the good news of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Colton who, at a diocesan service on Sunday, will consecrate the new icon created by international iconographer, Aidan Hart.

For the full programme of commemorative events at St Fin Barre’s this weekend, see

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times