Our church in Dornoch is dedicated to St. Finnbarr. Although there is some uncertainty over the precise details of St Finnbarr’s life, a number of things are known. He was born in Ireland at the end of the ﬁfth century and received his early education, as was common at that time in history, in a monastery. Later he was sent to Candida Casa – Saint Ninian’s great monastery in Whithom, Galloway. He remained there as a teacher and missionary, eventually travelling north visiting Saint Ninian’s foundations in the north and west of Scotland. Tradition maintains that he had a base and founded a monastic settlement (Muinntir) at Dornoch before ﬁnally returning to Ireland. It is said that it was (indirectly) because of S Finnbarr that the great S Columba came to Iona in 563.
During his life, he founded a monastic settlement in Cork (Ireland), studied, travelled and made pilgrimages in Europe before coming to Scotland as a teacher and missionary. Tradition maintains that he had a base and founded a monastic settlement here in Dornoch, before eventually returning to Ireland, and there is some archaeological evidence to support this. Sometime before 1146 a stone church dedicated to St Finnbarr was built at the east end of the present Dornoch Cathedral burial ground and until the 15th century served as the parish church for Dornoch but later fell into disuse. For many centuries St Barr’s Fair was held on 25th September, the date of the feast of St Finnbarr.