Category Archives: Celtic Scholar’s Reviews and Opinions

The Great Queens

Full Title: The Great Queens – Irish Goddesses from the Morrígan to Cathleen ní Houlihan
Series: Irish Literary Studies 34
Review: The Introduction discussed the background of the Irish language and the stories the author is talking about the rest of the book. Part One, which is made up of two chapters, discusses … Continue reading…

Gablánach in Scélaigecht

Full Title: Gablánach in Scélaigecht – Celtic Studies in Honor of Ann Dooley

Editors: Sarah Sheehan, Joanne Findon and Westley Follet

Synopsis: This book celebrates the career of Ann Dooley, one of Canada’s most eminent Celtic medievalists. Dooley’s colleagues at the University of Toronto, her former doctoral students, and some of the most prominent scholars in medieval Celtic studies honor her work with Continue reading…

Ireland and the Grail

Full Title: Ireland and the Grail

Author: John Carey

Synopsis: This is the first book-length study of the origins of the Grail legend to have been undertaken by a specialist in medieval Irish literature. Drawing on a detailed reexamination of the relevant texts in Irish, Welsh, Latin and French, extensive sections of which are presented in new translations, the author argues that the roots of the Grail legend are to be sought in the lost Old Irish manuscript known as the Book of Druimm Snechtai.

Review: So this book has been staring me in the face and on my To Be Read list since October 2012. Yep it has been waiting its turn patiently since then and the main reason for that is that Continue reading…

Manannan Mac Lir

**I can’t seem to get my fada to work on this iPad so be aware that there is a fada on the last “a” in Manannan.

Full Title: Pagan Portals: Manannan Mac Lir Meeting the Celtic God of Wave and Wonder

Author: Morgan Daimler

Synopsis: The sea is a powerful, driving force for many people, a source of sustenance as well as danger. It is no surprise that Manannan, the Celtic God of the sea, should be an important figure but one who is also as ambiguous as the element he is associated with: a trickster, a magic worker, an advisor and a warrior. In this book you will get to know the many faces of Manannan, called the son of the ocean, and learn of his important place in mythology and the pivotal role he plays in many events.

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Exploring Celtic Origins

Full Title: EXPLORING CELTIC ORIGINS: New ways forward in archaeology, linguistics, and genetics.

This latest book from Barry Cunliffe “focuses on a research programme, based in the centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies at Aberystwyth in collaboration with the School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, designed to explore the origins of the Celts and of the Celtic Language family.” (P. IX) Continue reading…

Inside the Táin

Full Title: Inside the Táin – Exploring Cú Chulainn, Fergus, Ailill, and Medb
Author: Doris Edel
Publisher: Cruach Bhán Publications
Published: 2015
ISBN: 978-3-942002-20-2
Pages: 371, including 2 Appendices, Works Cited and Index
Synopsis: This is the first literary-critical study of the Táin Bó Cúailnge in its entirety, and as an autonomous literary work. Continue reading…

Táin Bó Cúalnge

Series: Irish Texts Society Volume XLIX

Editor: Cecile O’Rahilly

Publisher: The Irish Texts Society and Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies

Published: First Published 1967, this copy 1984.

Pages: 357 includes the original text, translation, notes to the text and introduction and Index + Introduction.

**Notes from Celtic Scholar: This short review is not about the actual text of the Táin Bó Cúalnge or the translation but mostly about the Introduction and the notes at the end.

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Celtic Cosmology: Perspectives from Ireland and Scotland

Title: Celtic Cosmology: Perspectives from Ireland and Scotland

Editors: Jacqueline Borsje (Editor), Ann Dooley (Editor), Séamus Mac Mathúna (Editor), Gregory Toner (Editor)

Publisher: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies

Published: April 1st 2014

ISBN: 0888448260 (ISBN13: 9780888448262)

Pages: 324 including Bibliography.

Synopsis: From the deep sea to the waters above the sky, from the world beneath our feet to the promised land across the ocean – this volume represents a search for traces of cosmologies in Celtic sources, especially those of Ireland and Scotland. These cosmological traces are investigated for their Indo-European and Semitic parallels and influences. The broad world orderings – Celtic tripartition (earth, water and sky) and Christian bipartition (this world and the next) – are explored, and the cosmological meaning of specific demarcations in the landscape is analyzed. The world was mapped with words, as signposts for contemporary and future generations. These written “maps” are not only geographical, they also constitute ethical and mythological guidelines. Through storytelling, landscape and social space are processed in a framework of cosmic good and evil. In a Celtic mental world roads, rivers, mountains and hills are vital markers. Hills and caves were used in rituals and were seen as entrances to a subterranean otherworld where supernatural beings dwell and knowledge of the cosmos was believed to reside with these supernatural or subterranean beings. This knowledge is connected with protection and violation of the landscape and waters, and is often associated with the king, truth and justice. In the socialized landscape features of periphery and centre are closely related to kingship: thus, looming tragedy can be deduced from the route that a mythical king takes; royal capitals are outlined in landscape and architecture as ritual centres. The naming of significant places is a human act of creating order. In the Celtic literary tradition of explanatory and etymologizing stories, place-names serve as signifiers and warning signs (taboos) and some Celtic narratives on naming places appear to function also as performances of atonement for disruptions of the cosmic order.

 

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Review: I honestly thought long and hard before writing this review. I don’t feel like I have absorbed enough from the essays to actually talk about them confidently. It is not because the essays were not well written but because there was just too much to take in at once. This book needs to be read REALLY slowly with the stories that the essays are referring to at hand to see context. I was also not really all that familiar with the Scottish material and felt like I needed more time to absorb those parts.

So let me tell you what I thought in general. FINALLY, a book about Celtic cosmology that pulls in examples from mythology and folklore then throws in some Info-European material for some comparative analysis. The introduction itself was a beautiful treasure of definitions and thoughts that needed to be said. The essays themselves were written by people who know their stuff and edited by people who are experts in said stuff. The book is not a read it once kind of book. It is one that you must dip into time and time again to tease out all the information you need to understand Celtic Cosmology. It should be a staple in any Celtic scholar’s bookcase!

 

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