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My Lady Judge: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland (Burren Mysteries #1)

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  758 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
In the sixteenth century, as it is now, the Burren, on the western seaboard of Ireland, was a land of gray stone forts, fields of rich green grass, and swirling mountain terraces. It was also home to an independent kingdom that lived peacefully by the ancient Brehon laws of their forebears.

On the first eve of May, 1509, hundreds of people from the Burren climbed the gouged
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 19th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Some years ago I had the opportunity to travel around Ireland and I spent some enjoyable days in County Clare, where many of my forebears originated. On the northwest coast is the remarkable area called The Burren. It is a region of dramatic landscapes, with large tracts of rugged, exposed rock and treeless plains. Despite its harshness, the Burren has been occupied for thousands of years and is home to some of Ireland’s finest megalithic sites. Its remote and inhospitable situation made it
Jun 15, 2015 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed one of the more recent books so much, I decided to start from the beginning of the series.

Here we see Ireland - so often an afterthought in English history books - at the time of Henry VIII's ascension to the throne, undergoing some cultural changes and seeing the threat of becoming nothing more than an English province, potentially losing hundreds of years of legal judgements and history. Unlike English law, Irish law was more compassionate, less about fierce judgement and more a
Diane K.
Aug 02, 2013 Diane K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you happen to be a fan of Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma mysteries, you will likely enjoy this series. Both deal with formidable Irish ladies who are trained in the Irish Brehon laws. While the Sister Fidelma books take place in the seventh century, at a time when the Irish Celtic church was beginning to go head to head with the Roman church, this series is set just after Henry the Eighth has become king of England. The Irish Church has become firmly absorbed by the Roman, and now the Irish ...more
Good plot, neat setting, bad writing. If you're going to use a foreign language term, don't always couple it with the translation.
Mar 22, 2017 Eadie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
This was a great book about the Burren region in Ireland and a look at Irish Medieval history in the 16th century. It shows the roles that women and men played in the political and social events of that time. Mara is a lady judge and uses the Brehon law in order to make wise decisions. I also enjoyed her budding romance with the King and I will be sure to read the next books of the series as I am interesting in following the romance as it develops. The characters are believable and the murder pl ...more
Ana T.
love to read mysteries and when that is combined with an historical setting I can't resist adding them to my wish list. That was what happened with this book, I read a review somewhere and thought it might be interesting. It was!

The story is set in 16th century Ireland, Mara O'Davoren is a Brehon, a judge in the kingdom of Burren, and she runs a law school. Mara is an interesting woman and the glimpses we have of her past only made me more curious about her. She is a keen judge of character an
Sep 01, 2009 Spuddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of a new historical series set in early 16th century Ireland, featuring Mara, Brehon (judge and lawyer) of the Burren, a somewhat isolated area of western Ireland. When one of Mara's assistants at the law school she runs, Colman, is found stabbed to death the morning after the Beltaine celebration on the mountain, it is up to her to investigate. Before too long, she realizes that she was not the only person who didn't much like her unpleasant assistant--he was blackmailing numerous people, ...more
MY LADY JUDGE (Hist. Mys-Mara-Ireland-1509) – VG
Harrison, Cora – 1st in series
Macmillan, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9781405091909

First Sentence: It was the, as it is now, a land of grey stone.

The people of Burren, Ireland climbed Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate May Day. After the celebrations, one person doesn’t return. Mara is the Brehon or judge and lawgiver who had been appointed by King Turlough. Mara’s assistant, Colman, has been murdered and Mara must uncover the killer.

Prior to reading
Kindred Spirit
Tossing up between 3 and 4 stars for this book. 3.5? (I wish Goodreads did half stars.)

This book is set in the Burren, in western Ireland, in 1509 and focuses on Mara, a female Brehon (judge/law officer) in Gaelic Ireland and her investigation into the secret and unlawful killing of her assistant.

I found the first few chapters a bit slow, as they were mostly prosaic passages of the scenery or a description of this case or that bit of Brehon law, but the story picked up once the events of the eve
May 21, 2010 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-edition
Loved this. These tales are apparently based on actual cases from 15th/16th century Ireland. Mara is the Brehorn of Burren (my best guess is sort of like a DA here). She's the only female Brehorn in Ireland (a divorced one at that) and responsible for a law school (where they started their legal education at 8 years old....) and trying and judging all local legal cases. Henry the VIII is newly crowned and the possibility of an English threat looms quietly in the distance. However, murder, mayhem ...more
Mar 17, 2011 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, historical
It was ok. I had a big problem with Mara, the brehon. It seemed to me that just when she ought to be questioning people to get to the heart of a problem, she was letting them walk away. She also had a very, very poor understanding of a character who had been in her school for fourteen years.

And the main problem I had with the story was the writing, particularly when it comes to describing emotions and feelings. In one sentence, for example, Mara smiles, and in the next she's impatient. This type
Jan 01, 2016 Alice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely Excellent. It takes place in 1509 Ireland. Mara, is the Brehan, our lady Judge. The book is mystery and focuses around a murder and rape and how Mara applies the old Celtic Brehon Law to these cases. Very interesting look into Irish History. The great Irish Wolf hounds are bounding around too. Wonderful read highly recommend it. I nice mix of mystery, history and a little romance
Jul 14, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book in the series. It wasn't really spoiled by not being the first of the series I read. Picked up the second book while at the library today.
Susan Parks
Very interesting. I am looking forward to the next one.
Feb 28, 2017 Bess rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book read like a Matlock episode to me, except, it was a heroine legal figure vs. male and the setting was Ireland in the 1500’s, not Atlanta in the late 1980’s. Matlock was a trusted, well respected figure in the community, even though he had flaws, as does Mara in My Lady Judge. Matlock can spot very important clues in the most ordinary circumstances, as can Mara. Matlock doesn’t have a spouse, but does have adult kids, leaving him free to pursue his career and guess what, Mara doesn’t ha ...more
Jan 26, 2017 Kath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, wonderful story.
Looking forward to the next book in the series.
I enjoyed this visit to 16th century Ireland and particularly appreciated the comparison between the English system of guilt & punishment and the Irish system of restorative justice, although if you were rich you could probably get through the Irish system as easily as through the English one where rank most definitely had its privilege. The idea of there being 7 types of marriage would work where communities are reasonably small and people know or at least know of most people so they wouldn ...more
Set in the Burren region of Medieval Ireland (an area I was completely unfamiliar with), Harrison has created a cast of characters that feel both authentic and multi-dimensional. Outside of Ireland proper, I would imagine that few students receive history courses in old Irish (or Brehon) law. While the tales of the Tudor court and dynasty are familiar (this novel is set in the early reign of Henry VIII), the customs of the medieval Irish were new and fascinating. Harrison does a great job incorp ...more
Russell Atkinson
Dec 04, 2015 Russell Atkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The lady judge of the title is Mara, a Brehon in medieval Ireland. She runs a law school and is courted by the local king. The names of characters and places are all Gaelic. All these aspects make the book unique in my experience and I was not entirely comfortable with it at first. It was a struggle to remember who was who when I couldn't recognize the female names from the male. I still have no idea of the geography and I've never been a fan of historical fiction. It also is a rather slow-paced ...more
Clare O'Beara
This gently-paced tale set on the Burren region in the west of Ireland, shows a lady Brehon or judge called Mara. She teaches a law school of young students - the author has been a principal teacher. At this time Henry VIII has just come to power in England and there are fears that the new wealthy king will look to extend his power overseas.

Mara fears that the students may be involved when a young man is found dead after a traditional celebration on a mountain. However she is a kind and trusted
Trevor Hollingsworth
Ive been meaning to start reviewing each book I read on here and I keep putting it off. I usually read 3 or 4 books at the same time and Im sad the first I finished in this last batch was this one and now my first review will be a negative one. I cant wait to finished two of the others im reading so I can spout joyous praise but for now... there is this review. I hate to rip on books because all books have value and I have a great respect for those who are able to get published and share there w ...more
Diane Morasco
The amazingly talented Cora Harrison, a veteran novelist for children, steps into the adult sphere w/ an alluring historical novel that will knock you breathless w/ her vivid imagery.

Harrison has created an empowering heroine w/ the delightful, energetic & lovable Mara.

Harrison delivers the goods w/ an unparalled mystery set in a medieval kingdom off the spectacular coast of Ireland.

Mara is Brehon (a medieval Irish judge) of the Burren, appointed to this distinguished position by the King hi
Cora Harrison’s My Lady Judge is a simple, enjoyable read that also presents an important perspective on medieval Ireland. Harrison’s thorough knowledge of Brehon law informs an engaging murder mystery and creates an intimate vision of 16th century Ireland without falling into pedantry. So much of what we know about medieval Ireland is derived from English texts – see Edmund Spenser’s A View of the Present State of Ireland (1596) or John Derrick’s The Image of Irelande (1581; contains some incre ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Heli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaelic Ireland was on the treshold of new times in the early 16th century. The Tudors were builing up their power in England and Ireland’s old society and its customs were changing. The old Gaelic laws were based on the consensus of the community, mutual aid and sense of responsibility.

The status of women in Ireland was generally speaking good compared with the conditions elsewhere those days. For example, divorce was legitimate, also on the initiative of the wife, and women could work independe
Loved, loved, loved this book! Can't wait to read the rest of the series. Usually I'm the person who skips over the quotes at the beginning of chapters because the author is trying to be "deep," but this time I didn't. Each chapter had an excerpt of the English translation of ancient Irish law books--fascinating stuff. And, of course, this book is about a female brehon (judge/teacher of law/king's court) who has most of this stuff memorized so she can pass judgement on her people in the Burren. ...more
Not a thriller, rather almost a "cozy," I suppose. My Lady Judge is set in a small kingdom in the west of Ireland in the year 1509. The lead character is Mara, a Brehon, who settles disputes and makes law. She also runs a school for scholars interested in becoming law-givers, perhaps even Brehons in later years. Harrison compares British law to Celtic law, which was in most aspects far more humane than English law. The historical aspect kept my interest. The murder most foul proved interesting, ...more
Meabh McDonnell
I grew up on Cora Harrison and truly enjoyed her Drumshee series when I was a child, so I was incredibly excited to begin My Lady Judge. Unfortunately though the story was interesting and the main character incredibly interesting the language just didn't do it for me. Harrison spends a great deal of time (especially at the beginning of the story) telling and not showing. She tells us that characters are mean, brave, lazy, un-coperative without letting the reader see that for themselves. Also, Ma ...more
Ellen Keim
I'm of a split mind about this book: I enjoyed the historical background but was bored by the main character, mainly because she was just too perfect (if there can be such a thing). She didn't have any flaws or self-doubt and the life she lived was almost idyllic. As a result, the book doesn't have any bite to it. There are intimations of troubles ahead, but Mara (the lady judge) chooses to ignore them. She's faced with a big decision in this book, but seems unconcerned about making it. She supp ...more
Feb 02, 2014 Kellyann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Pros: Harrison's writing isn't painfully bad, like Peter Tremayne's.

The romantic connection between Mara and the king is both skillfully written and plausible.

Cons: Harrison's writing isn't great, either.

She feels the need to use Irish words and phrases even when it creates stilted prose, sometimes going so far as to have the characters translating their own Irish words to each other, despite all the characters speaking Irish Gaelic.

Similarly, Harrison can't seem to resist throwing in histor
Aug 09, 2016 FionaF rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Cora Harrison worked as a headteacher before she decided to write her first novel. She has since published twenty-six children's novels. My Lady Judge was her first book in a Celtic historical crime series for adults that introduces Mara, Brehon of the Burren. Cora lives on a farm near the Burren in the west of Ireland.

More about Cora Harrison...

Other Books in the Series

Burren Mysteries (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • A Secret and Unlawful Killing (Burren Mysteries, #2)
  • The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries, #3)
  • Writ in Stone (Burren Mysteries, #4)
  • Eye of the Law (Burren Mysteries, #5)
  • Scales of Retribution (Burren Mysteries #6)
  • Deed of Murder (Burren Mysteries #7)
  • Laws in Conflict (Burren Mysteries #8)
  • Chain of Evidence (Burren Mysteries #9)
  • Cross of Vengeance (Burren Mysteries #10)
  • Verdict of the Court (Burren Mysteries #11)

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