Ten Thousand Saints: A Study in Irish and European Origins
By: Hubert Butler
“During the twenty years from the early 1950s to the  publication of Ten Thousand Saints Hubert Butler amassed, by hand, every possible reference to every possible saint in the Irish corpus in Irish and Latin … His understanding of Ireland as part of the bigger picture of prehistoric Europe is refreshing and his ability to trace the traditions of the historical Irish back to that picture is exciting.” -from the Introduction by Alan Harrison
When it was first published in 1972, Hubert Butler’s pioneering masterwork was received with scepticism by his contemporaries. He used linguistics to trace the origins of myths and saints back to pre-Celtic Ireland and Europe, and showed how these stories and names – ancestors of half-forgotten tribes – became absorbed by Christian mythology. The early Irish wove their stories, as did the Greeks, the Hebrews and all early peoples, from the migration of tribes and by wordplay with their time-battered, unstable names.
Ten Thousand Saints raises fascinating problems that take us beyond the frontiers of recorded history to the remote movements of European peoples, to the clash of tribes and tongues. As modern DNA sampling and genome-mapping, seen in the regional patterning of today’s Irish surnames, reinforce Butler’s findings, his methods and thesis are now gaining scholarly recognition.
This new edition, amplified and updated, demonstrates ingeniously coded histories – via place names, legends, hero-figures, saints and ancestors – that relate to the wanderings and minglings of all the great tribes of Europe’, extending back to Neolithic times.
HUBERT BUTLER was born in Kilkenny on 23 October 1900. Educated in England at Charterhouse and St John’s College, Oxford, he travelled extensively throughout Europe during the twenties and thirties before returning in 1941 to Bennettsbridge, Co. Kilkenny, where he lived until his death on 5 January 1991. Market gardener, journalist, essayist and historian, his works include Escape from the Anthill, The Children of Drancy, Grandmother and Wolfe Tone and In the Land of Nod – all of which gained him international recognition.
Cover illustration by Timothy O Neill. Cover design by Niall McCormack