Mac an Bhaird, Aodh Buidhe (Ward, Hugh; Vardaeus, Hugo) (c.1593–1635), hagiographer, was born in the barony of Tirhugh, Co. Donegal, probably at Ballymacaward, a townland that was named after his family. The Mac an Bhaird family belonged to the hereditary learned caste of Gaelic society and its members served as poets to the O'Kellys of Uí Mhaine, the O'Reillys of Bréifne, and the O'Donnells of Tír Chonaill. Aodh Buidhe Mac an Bhaird was the son of Eoghan Mac an Bhaird and his wife Máire Ní Chléirigh, and it has been suggested that Aodh's father may have been the Eoghan Ruadh Mac an Bhaird (qv) who accompanied Ruaidhrí O'Donnell (Ó Domhnaill) (qv), earl of Tyrconnell, into exile in 1607. In keeping with his family's learned status, Mac an Bhaird received a good education, studying for six years in Connacht under a variety of masters, the most important of whom he named as Oliver Hussy, Henry Hart, Tadhg Ó hUiginn, and Aonghus Mac Con Midhe – a mixture of Old English and Old Irish names suggesting that his studies ranged more broadly than the traditional bardic curriculum. In January 1612 he entered the Irish Franciscan college at Salamanca, a step in which he was followed by a younger brother, Fearghal, in 1615.
In 1622 Mac an Bhaird was appointed lecturer in philosophy at the Irish college of St Anthony in Louvain. He was in Paris in 1623 and there met another Irish Franciscan, Fr Patrick Fleming (qv), whom he enthused with the idea of collecting material on the lives of Irish saints, a project that was prompted in part by a desire to counter Thomas Dempster's Menologium Scotticum (1619) which had claimed many of the early Irish saints for Scotland. While in France, Mac an Bhaird visited libraries at Nantes, Harfleur, and Rouen as well as Paris, and Patrick Fleming provided him with reports of manuscripts that he found in French, Italian, and German monasteries while travelling to and from Rome. Having being appointed guardian at Louvain, Mac an Bhaird despatched a lay Franciscan brother, Micheál Ó Cléirigh (qv), to Ireland in 1626 to collect hagiographical material from Irish manuscripts. The continental scholars with whom Mac an Bhaird corresponded included the Benedictine Benedict Lessing and the eminent Jesuit historian John van Bolland. He served as guardian of St Anthony's in 1626–9 and was appointed lecturer in theology in 1629. These and other duties delayed work on the lives of the saints, and by 1630 he was already in poor health. He died at Louvain on 8 November 1635, before any of the primary sources that he had collected or his own writings could be published.
Within a year, however, Micheál Ó Cléirigh completed his manuscript Annála ríoghachta Éireann (the so-called ‘Annals of the Four Masters’) at the Franciscan convent in Donegal. Two hagiographical works by John Colgan (qv), Acta sanctorum Hiberniae and Triadis thaumaturgae acta, which were substantially based on sources collected by Mac an Bhaird, appeared at Louvain in 1645 and 1647 respectively. In 1662 Sancti Rumoldi martyris . . . acta, Mac an Bhaird's own Life of St Rumold, the patron of the Belgian metropolitan see of Mechelen, who was believed to have been Irish, was published at Louvain.