Four Offaly Saints

The Lives of Ciarán of Clonmacnoise, Ciarán of Seir, Colmán of Lynally and Fíonán of Kinnitty

Pádraig Ó Riain

Paperback €13.45
Catalogue Price: €14.95
ISBN: 978-1-84682-704-4
June 2018. 160pp; colour ills.

'Professor Pádraig Ó Riain has over many years made an immeasurable contribution to our understanding of early Christian Ireland, with particular emphasis on hagiography, saints’ lives and the study of place names [...] One can imagine this volume being feasted upon by those whose scholarly delight is the detective story of how ancient texts were created, transmitted and altered, how they sometimes ended up in distant libraries where they were cleverly adapted to address the concerns and indeed to bulwark the opinions of later readers with their own preoccupations and agendas [...] the Lives are also treasure troves when it comes to the elucidation of place names, the study of changing topography, and indeed the ecological challenge to live in renewed harmony with nature which for most readers is probably the most contemporary and pertinent aspect of this material', Michael Burrows, Search (Spring, 2019).

'This latest work by Professor Pádraig Ó Riain of UCC is a welcome addition to contemporary translations of early hagiographical works. Ó Riain has produced a collection based on geography, these four lives are brought together in this volume by virtue of their connections with County Offaly. Students of medieval Irish history and folklore will find this book to be of interest. The importance of this publication is not simply that these texts are translated into English for the first time, but Ó Riain's editing has situated the lives in their historical context and made them accessible to both specialist and non-specialist alike', Neil Xavier O'Donoghue, The Furrow (Nov. 18).


'Pádraig Ó Riain attributes the origins of this attractive and compact volume to a request by the Heritage Officer of Offaly County Council to create a similar work for Co.Offaly as he had for Tipperary in his Four Tipperary Saints (2014). We must therefore be grateful to this officer for suggesting such a project, as Ó Riain's book enhances our understanding of saints and their hagiography in Ireland ... ÓRiain's notes on the texts and his very readable translation style make his versions of these works particularly useful, and they will be a boon to students of medieval Irish and international hagiography ... Ó Riain certainly succeeds n his goal to provide 'readable and easily comprehensible texts ... and Four Offaly Saints will no doubt be a requirement for anyone interested in Irish saints, their Lives, and churches. It is a welcome addition to the canon of Irish hagiographical texts in translation, and it can only be hoped that some kind Heritage Officer might persuade Ó Riain to deliver a third volume in this vein', Sarah Waidler, Folklore (2019).


'Páraig Ó Riaian has followed up 2014's Four Tipperary Saints with another little gem ... this one includes translations of four medieval Lives of saints associated with churches within a single modern country, two of them translated here for the first time ...In making these Lives available in engaging and accessible translations, Ó Riain is helping bring greater attention to these under-valued texts and encouraging the study of an under-appreciated genre .. The book opens with a brief, valuable general introduction, providing an overview of hagiography as a genre and discussing the dates of the surviving manuscripts, the political geography of medieval Offaly, and the nature of saints' genealogies.' Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies, no.79 (2020).