Wednesday, 10th September 2014
Féile Fidelma? Being translated from the Irish, it is “the Fidelma Festival” and I can see a word of explanation would be in order.
The Cheerful Ladies at my local library look after me very well. They know what books I’m interested in and will frequently suggest I try this, that or the other. So it was, many years ago, that I was introduced to a series of books by the renowned scholar and prolific author Peter Berresford Ellis writing under the pseudonym “Peter Tremayne”. These books, the first appearing in 1994 and of which there are now 25, feature Fidelma who lives in 7th century Ireland and is sister of Colgú the King of Muman (Munster). She is also (at least initially) a religieuse, and therefore often referred to as “Sister Fidelma”, as well as being a highly-qualified dálaigh. A dálaigh is an Irish lawyer able to appear in court, to sit in court as a judge on occasion, and also to investigate crime. Together with her husband Eadulf, a Saxon whom she first met at the Synod of Whitby, she is therefore the central character in a series of mediæval whodunnits.
The books have maintained a very high standard over the 20 years since their first appearance, with not one potboiler amongst them, and as a result the International Sister Fidelma Society was formed in America by David Robert Wooten.
In 2006 there was sufficient interest in the books for Cashel Arts Fest (“Cashel of the Kings” being Fidelma’s home town and from which Colgú governs his kingdom) to organise the first Féile Fidelma. This proved to be so popular (in no small measure due to Seamus King and his happy band of pilgrims) that the event has been held biennially ever since.
I was sufficiently interested in the Féiles to consider going myself, but for one reason or another (OK – indolence) the opportunities passed by. This year, however, with time and strength to do it I’ve made the necessary arrangements and here I am in Liverpool’s dockside Travelodge waiting to board the ferry to Dublin Port at the unearthly hour of 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.