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Peter Berresford Ellis
The prolific and gifted story-teller of Ireland
How do you begin to describe Peter Berresford Ellis? You could start by saying he is an historian, a biographer, a novelist and short-story writer but, above all, he is a scholar. An eminent Celtic scholar.
He's certainly a prolific writer. Berresford Ellis has now published over 90 books, roughly 100 short stories and numerous academic papers. His work has appeared in over 20 languages.
As `Peter Tremayne' he is best known for his international best-selling Sister Fidelma Mysteries, set in 7th Century Ireland and featuring a popular sleuth who solves her cases in accordance with the ancient Irish law system, the Brehon.
Writing as Peter Tremayne
I love Sister Fidelma!
I love the mystery, the sleuthing, the characters and customs. I enjoy reading good detective fiction that can transport me totally to another time. The Fidelma books do this exceedingly well.
Ireland has preserved as part of her heritage a large body of ancient law tracts, known collectively as 'Fenechas', the law of the Feine (Freemen), or more commonly, the Brehon Law. These laws are the oldest in Europe.
The interpretation and enforcement of the law was vested in the hands of a specialist group of advocates known as Brehons. These advocates were highly trained in memorising huge amounts of traditional knowledge and intricate judgements.
Fidelma is an Eognacht princess, sister to the king of Cashel and respected advocate of the ancient Brehon laws. She is called upon to solve dark mysteries and murder most foul for Fidelma is a qualified dalaigh.
Fidelma is a pleasure to meet! If you haven't read any before, start with these fifteen short mysteries.
Fifteen Sister Fidelma short mysteries - Hemlock at Vespers
An introduction to Sr Fidelma through these short stories
Hemlock at Vespers contains 15 stand-alone stories, perfect for the newcomer and the follower alike.
It's the best way to meet the redheaded moody protagonist and dedicated Fidelma fans will love the stories and understand the reasons for her disillusionment with the House of Blessed Brigid
From my own Bookshelf
I recommend these beauties from Peter Beresford Ellis
The Celtic Revolution: - A Study in Anti-Imperialism
The Celts once inhabited territory from Turkey to Spain, but are now confined to eight territories.
Berresford Ellis asserts that, since there is no Celtic race, the basic determiner of Celtic identity is language. When the six Celtic tongues are allowed to die, the Celts will no longer, in his view, exist.
He believes individual liberty and fulfillment is impossible without national freedom.
Peter Berresford Ellis makes a strong but concise case for the integrity of the Celtic lands - Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany and Cornwall, and colonies in Cape Breton and Patagonia - and their languages.
A Brief History of the Celts - Making the scholarly accessible
A foremost authority on the Celtic peoples and their culture, Peter Berresford Ellis presents an invigorating overview of their world.
With his gift for making the scholarly accessible, he discusses the Celts' mysterious origins and early history and investigates their rich and complex society. His use of recently uncovered firds brings fascinating insights into Celtic kings and chieftains, architecture and arts, medicine and religion, myth and legend.
Uncovering one of the world's greatest civilisations.
For centuries the Celts held sway in Europe. Even after their conquest by the Romans, their culture remained vigorous, ensuring that much of it endured to feed an endless fascination with Celtic history and myths, artwork and treasures.
The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends - From all six Celtic cultures
The popular myths and legends, plus exciting tales which have been lying in manuscript form, translated and unknown.
From all six Celtic cultures - Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton.
Peter Berresford Ellis brings not only his extensive knowledge of source material but also his acclaimed skills of storytelling to produce an original, enthralling and definitive collection of Celtic myths and legends.
Wondrous tales of gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, magical weapons, geasa, fabulous beasts, and entities from the ancient Celtic world.
Erin's Blood Royal
A stately and informative study of the history and culture of old Ireland through the family trees of the dynasties which ruled for 2,000 years until the invasion of Henry VIII.
Berresford Ellis traces an articulate and impressive account of the family branches whose descendants live in England, Australia, Canada, USA and, of course, Ireland, to this day
The Druids - The subject of propaganda
Peter Berresford Ellis sifts through evidence and, with reference to the latest archaeological findings and the use of etymology, shows that the Druids have been subject to propaganda and fabrications through the centuries.
A history of the cult of the ancient Druids, exploring who they really were and what role they played in the Celtic world.
Berresford Ellis' interpretation of the facts, based on both archaeological and etymological findings.
Early Irish Astrology
An Historical Argument
Fortunately there is an essay on Irish Astrology by Berresford Ellis online.
" In all histories of western astrology there is a curious omission. There are no references to early Irish, nor - indeed - ancient Celtic, astrological practices.........
The major reason for this neglect of the subject, at least during the last fifty years, has undoubtedly been the insidious influence of Robert Graves' The White Goddess (1949). This book has done singular disservice to those who seek to study the realities of Celtic cosmology and, especially, the practice of astrology. Graves was not a Celtic scholar".
Five Highlights of the Honours for Peter Berresford Ellis
Berresford Ellis is a leading authority on the Celts and highly regarded by academics in his own field .Here are just some of the many honours he has received.
- Cornish Gorsedd : Inaugurated a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd for his work on the Cornish language in 1987.
- Anonn Is Anal: Commenced his regular monthly column `Anonn Is Anall' for the Irish Democrat, the journal of the Connolly Association.
- Celtic League : Elected international president of the Celtic League 1988
- Society of Scotland : Elected Hon. Life President of the 1820 Society of Scotland.
- Irish Literary Society : Hon. Life Membership of the Irish Literary Society (founded in 1892)
More from Ireland
- Diarmuid and Grainne a Legend from Ireland
An epic tale of wilful love, broken trust, relentless passion and ultimate tragedy. It's a saga of magic, sorcery, murderous mayhem, bloody vengeance, relentless pursuit and a final act of treachery. In other words, a love story.
- The Irish Harp
The story of the Irish harp is the story of the Irish people. This ancient folk instrument with its beautiful, delicate sound is played today despite being ignored, derided and proscribed for centuries.
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© 2009 Susanna Duffy