The fourth Feile Fidelma took place in Cashel Palace Hotel on the weekend of September 7th-9th. It was a great success with thirty-five people in attendance. The vast number of them came from abroad with eight countries in all represented at the proceedings.
The three-day event was formally opened on Friday evening by the Mayor of Cashel, Dr. Sean McCarthy. He spoke highly of the organisers of the event, the Cashel Arts Fest Committee and of the significance of the event for the economic life of the town.
Before he spoke the attendance was welcomed by the chair of Cashel Arts Fest, Petronelle Clifton Brown. Also in attendance was Councillor John Crosse, chairman of South Tipperary County Council.
The weekend was devoted to a study of the life and times of the fictional character, Sr. Fidelma, the main character in the series of Fidelma Mysteries, written by Peter Tremayne. Sr. Fidelma is a very successful sleuth who sets out from the Rock of Cashel, where she resides with her brother, King Colgu of Munster, to solve murder mysteries in monasteries throughout Munster and further afield. The novels are based in seventh century Ireland
She is a most unusual nun, a great horse woman and is skilled in the arts of self-defence. There are twenty-three novels in the series, which Tremayne started writing in 1993.
There were seven talks over the weekend, the first on Friday evening featured the author himself, Peter Tremayne, answering readers’ questions. Since the novels take place in seventh century Ireland, when the people were governed by the Brehon Laws, there was an interesting talk by Cora Harrison, who is responsible for the Burren Mysteries, a series of books based in the Burren in the seventeenth century, when Ireland was at a crossroads between the ancient Brehon Law and the new English Law, which was taking over. During the seventh century there was an ongoing dispute between Rome and the Irish Church on the proper date of Easter. This conflict was dealt with in brilliant fashion by Dr. Damian Bracken of U.C.C.
Actor and producer, Neil Donnelly took as his theme the question of dramatising Fidelma.
One of the most provocative titles was addressed by Irish language writer, Anna Heussaff, ‘Is Fidelma a Real Woman?’
She dissected the character for her female attributes and came to the conclusion that the author had got it right, with the exception of Fidelma’s lack of chat about family and friends.
Cormac Miller (aka Dr. Cormac Ó Cuilleanain, professor of Italian at TCD), who writes mystery novels in his spare time, spoke about ‘Some Clerical Heroes and Villains in Crime Fiction.’
The weekend was summed up by David Wooten, the director of the International Sister Fidelma Society. He also introduced a very important publication for Sr. Fidelma fans. It is ‘The Sister Fidelma Mysteries: Essays on the Historical Novels of Peter Tremayne.’
It includes twenty essays on different aspects of the novels, one of which is entitled ‘Feile Fidelma: Its Origins and History’ by Seamus J. King, who is one of the key promoters of these weekends for Cashel Arts Fest. The book is published by McFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina and London.
Another important piece of information to come out of the weekend was intended publication of the first of the Sr. Fidelma mysteries, ‘Absolution by Murder’ in graphic form. Hans van den Boom, the Dutch publisher of Fidelma, informed the attendance that the graphics are almost completed and that he intends to launch the book in three languages simultaneously in the new year.
One of the highlights of the weekend was a visit to Rathnadrinna under the leadership of local archaeologist, Richard O’Brien, who carried out a dig there during the summer. On a beautiful sunny afternoon, the audience was treated to an interesting and enlightening talk on the origin and purpose of this four-ringed fort and some of the artifacts discovered in the dig.
Overall a wonderful weekend for the attendance and general satisfaction at the success of the venture. There was plenty of talk at the end of the need to hold Feile Fidelma Five in 2014.