A dictionary of Irish saints

Pádraig Ó Riain

Hardback €58.50
Catalogue Price: €65.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-318-3
October 2011. 660pp.

‘There are many more saints and nuggets to be found in this treasure trove, which is very accessible and perfect for dipping in and out of. The sheer amount of sweat and toil spent in compiling a work such as this is incalculable. It is difficult to overemphasise the importance and scope of this extraordinary piece of scholarship. Simply indispensable', Brendan Scott, Breifne (2012).

'Pádraig Ó Riain has made an outstanding contribution to the study of early Irish saints and their cults … This dictionary brings together the results of several decades of research … Anyone studying early and medieval Irish history will need to have Ó Riain’s Dictionary to hand. It will also be of great use to the student of middle Irish literature … For students of early Irish literature, therefore, as well as historians, Ó Riain’s Dictionary will form part of that select group of indispensible books', Thomas Charles-Edwards, IHS (November 2012).

‘Of Professor Ó Riain’s book, it may be truly said “it feels a long felt want” … this book, the crown of a lifetime’s work, is to be celebrated. It is an important book, one that every library worthy of the name will want to have, but we can also see it being snapped up by those thousands of people now greatly interested in all aspects of our past … He provides an account of every saint he has been able to trace, a thousand or so, arranged in alphabetical order. He has drawn on an amazingly wide range of sources, old lives of the saints, genealogies, calendars of feasts days and so, and every entry is fully referenced. An index of subjects opens the lives up to many other kinds of investigation … This is a simply splendid book, which cannot be recommended highly enough to readers, for it provides an almost complete Irish hagiography', Peter Costello, The Irish Catholic (17 November 2011).

This great book ranks easily as the “book of the year” for 2011 … Even to read the vast list of sources given at the beginning of the book is to be amazed at the riches of Irish scholarship built up over the last hundred years. Only a scholar like Pádraig Ó Riain could have compiled this dictionary', Réamonn Ó Muirí, Seanchas Ard Mhacha (2012).

A wonderful and unique resource for geneaologists, one-namers and local historians. This volume has a wealth of information drawn from many sources … The author’s extensive research provides short biographies of each of the Irish saints and, in doing so, he provides information on the various locations associated with each saint and any lore surrounding their feast-days … Professor Ó Riain’s monumental work has preserved and made publically accessible an enormous treasure trove of information for the local historian, folklorist, placenames researcher, surname specialists and, of course, the genealogist … Ó Riain’s work is an enormous resource for many different studies. No library should be without a copy', Michael Merrigan, Ireland’s Genealogical Gazette (November 2011).

‘This dictionary, the work of more than 40 years, is an extraordinary achievement … The 12th century saw intense hagiographical activity succeeded by another trough. Production has been rather steady since the 19th century, but Ó Riain’s far and away the best book … this book offers numerous delights … This is an important research tool for specialist libraries and for scholars of the vast heritage of Ireland. Highly Recommended', E.J. Kealey, Choice (May 2012).

‘Ireland is a land of saints and Professor Pádraig Ó Riain has spent much of his career surrounded by them … This book provides those who want to explore a key element in Irish culture and tradition with an immense resource. The sheer amount of work and scholarship represented is staggering. There are, for example, by my count, 1,013 identified feast-days which are dispersed throughout the calendar year. There are 1,118 civil parishes indexed where churches associated with individual saints might be found and 850 other place-names … To be asked to review a volume like this is a real privilege’, Catherine Swift, North Munster Antiquarian Journal (2013).

‘This comprehensive dictionary of Irish Saints provides bibliographical entries on hundreds of individuals as well as extensive reference information on historical sources, feast days, parishes, and place names. The work is well laid out and extensively cross-referenced', Reference & Research Book News (February 2012).