Berach (late 6th/early 7th cent.), son of Amairgen son of Neman (LL 347d) and Fíonmaith (Fínmath), was a saint of the early Irish church. He was said to have been born in Gortnaluachra (Gortnalougher townland, parish of Cloone, near Mohill, Co. Leitrim). Educated by St Daig (qv) in Inis Caín (Inishkeen, Co. Monaghan), he became a monk under Cóemgen (qv) of Glendalough. After several years at Glendalough he ventured into pagan territory to found a monastery at Cluain Coirpthe (now Termonbarry, Co. Roscommon), where his Irish Life (much fuller than the possibly twelfth-century Latin Life) was probably written. His Lives show him in contact with such people as Áed Abrat (qv) (d. 577), Finnian (qv) (d. 579) of Movilla, Áedán (qv) (d. 606/9) king of Dál Riata, and Cóemgen (d. 618–22), which places him in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. There is no way of determining if he is identical with the Berach featured by Adomnán (qv) in his ‘Vitae Columbae’ (i. 19); that Berach is a seafaring monk whom Colum Cille (qv) warned to make a detour ‘by the small islands’ on his journey from Iona to Eth (Tiree), and whom he blessed on his return. The surviving dedication to him in Kilberry, Argyllshire, makes such an identification possible. He is the patron saint of Termonbarry. His feast-day is 15 February, as given in the Martyrology of Donegal (‘Berach, abbot of Cluain Coirpthe’) and in the Martyrology of Drummond (‘Berach, confessor’). Tradition describes him as a saint of great power and charity.
Mart. Don.; P. Ó Riain, Four Irish martyrologies: Drummond, Turin, Cashel, Cork (2002), 39; O'Hanlon, Lives Ir. saints, ii, 534–52; Plummer, Vitae SS Hib., i, pp xxxi–xxxii, 75–86; idem, Bethada náem nÉrenn, i, pp xvi, 23–43; ii, 22–43, 326–8; Kenney, Sources, no. 196; Bibliotheca Sanctorum 2 (1962), 1266–8 (C. McGrath); Bk Leinster, vi, ed. A. O'Sullivan (1983), 1530; J. Borsje, From chaos to enemy: encounters with monsters in early Irish texts (1996), 100, 165, 168; ODNB(Connacht, saints of)