Saint Barr

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[cf. ScG barr, ‘top, uppermost, cream’].

Saint and probable eponym of the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. His feast, Là Féill Bharr, involving ritual horseback riding, was once celebrated on 27 September, later merging with the feast of St Michael, 29 September. His name and feast show him to be identical with Barra (Finnbarr) and, more generally, to have formed part of the cult of St Finnbarr, whose feast in Cork, for example, fell on 25 September and, on Barry Island in South Wales, on about 26 September. The traveller Martin Martin (1703) records that a Catholic priest visited Barra and claimed never to have heard of St Barr, incurring the displeasure of the islanders.

Subjects: Religion.

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