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Beatha Bharra: Saint Finnbarr of Cork: The Complete Life

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Pádraig Ó Riain (1994)

xVIII + 322 pp. ISBN 1 870 16657 4

The editor of this volume, Pádraig Ó Riain, provides a comprehensive edition of the various Lives, Irish and Latin, of St Finbarr, patron of the church and diocese of Cork . The Lives written for the saint range in date from about 1200 to the early seventeenth century, and there are more manuscripts of the later version than of any other Irish saint’s Life. Besides considering previous work on the saint, this volume contains a full discussion of the manuscript tradition of each of Finbarr’s Lives. The publication of the volume engendered a considerable amount of controversy, and dismay, especially in Cork, where the editor’s thesis that the saint had in fact never set foot in the south of Ireland, was given a cool reception. The evidence for Professor Ó Riain’s view that Finbarr of Cork was identical with Finnian of Movilla in Co. Down is set out in the first chapter of the companion volume, The Making of a Saint: Finbarr of Cork 600-1200, published in Subsidiary Series No. 5. which also contains an interpretation of the historical circumstances that gave rise to the production of the saint’s Life.

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