Brendan (Brénainn) of Birr (d. 565/73), saint in the Irish tradition, was the son of Neman. The historical facts concerning him are few, and nothing survives of his monastic foundation at Birr, Co. Offaly. He is said to have been educated at the great monastery of Bangor. According to Adomnán (qv), he was a personal friend of Colum Cille (qv) and rose to greet him with the kiss of peace on his arrival at the synod of Tailtiu (c. 562), which had assembled for the purpose of excommunicating the Iona saint for some unnamed offence (‘Vita Columbae’, iii, 3). Brendan defended him against the decision of the synod and the ban was lifted. When Brendan was dying Colum Cille had a vision of angels coming to meet his soul and asked for a special mass to be said then and there for his arrival, or ‘birth’ (natalis), into heaven (iii, 11). His death is variously given as 565 (AU) or 573 (Ann. Tig.). His feast-day is 29 November.
The Annals feature the names of many abbots and a few events concerning Birr, including an unseemly battle with Clonmacnoise (760) and the synod of Birr (1174). The eighth-century volume featuring the Gospels of MacRegol is the only Birr manuscript that has survived (Oxford, Bodliean Library, Auct. D.2.19).