Students will automatically absorb Irish culture and customs along with historical facts as
they read the Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mystery series. For example, in The Mystery of
the Winking Judge, the ancient Irish Ogham stone writing language is used by Liffey as a
design on her first Irish dance solo dress with the "letters" (which are actually groups of
lines) spelling her last name: Rivers. But since Irish dance competition rules forbid the
wearing of a dancer's name (dancers wear numbers), Liffey knows that a judge would have
to watch her dance using a mirror since Ogham letters are written from right to left
(sometimes from down to up as well) and Liffey has her letter-lines arranged in a left to right
sequence in the western writing tradition. The code-like lesson of Ogham writing is typical of
the manner in which the student is casually instructed. (See Ogham letters on front cover of
The Mystery of the Winking Judge). In The Mystery of the Winking Judge, students will also
be introduced to the English Tudor queens through Liffey's eyes as she tours the National
Portrait Gallery in London where she discovers that "something is WRONG"with one of the
portraits of Queen Elizabeth I.Liffey then tours Ireland with her father, unaware that they are
being followed by an international art theft agent and eventually solves the mystery while
dancing in County Sligo at a "feis" (pronounced 'fesh')or Irish dance competition.
** Vocabulary Extension:
former-latter: p. 1, neither-nor: p. 1, prow:
pp. 5, 128, nonchalant: p. 7, onyx: p. 27,
tort-torte: p. 23, docent: p. 31, Egyptologist: p.
34, credibility: p. 37, reprieve: p. 52,
formidable: p. 83, patronizingly: p. 89, sallow:
p. 102, anonymous: p. 131
** 'still stunned by her tongue tied swoon'
p. 31, 'before she shredded her dignity once again'
p. 37, 'the stage would be going to Davy Jones'
locker' p. 75, 'Little Orphan Annie smile' p. 59
** Choose two of the following ficticious
characters mentioned in the book and write
a brief paragraph about each of them
without doing any research. Search your
own memory bank!
Mary Poppins, Wee Willie Winkie,
Tarzan, Paddington Bear, Sherlock
Holmes,Batman, Little Orphan Annie,
Children of Lir
WHAT IS THIS?
** Why do you think Liffey fears her father's
history lectures? (eg: she feels trapped) Do you
prefer people lecturing to you or do you prefer to
watch dvds or television programs about subjects
that interest you?
** Michael Flatley p. 85, brought Irish dancing to
the whole world when he introduced Riverdance
in the 1990's. His dancing demonstrates that Irish
dancing is not just for girls. He more or less "owns"
it and is greatly respected. His legions of fans call
**Do you think there is a stigma against boys
performing as ballet dancers, tap dancers, flamenco
or Irish dancers? (eg: peer pressure). Watch
Riverdance and then you decide!! Name some
other famous male dancers. (eg: Ballet-Rudolph
Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tap-Fred
Astaire and Savion, Flamenco-Israel Galvan)
** Read carefully the description of Liffey Rivers'
solo dress (pp. 92-93). Discuss Liffey's
reference to Middle Earth when she examines
the dress and imagines it was made by immortals.
**Where is "Middle Earth?"
** Do you have a favorite nursery rhyme? If so,
can you recite it now from memory? Liffey's
is Wee Willie Winkie.
Select the Scottish
HERE IS AN ADAPTED SCOTTISH
WEE WILLIE WINKIE
By William Miller 1841
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and doon stairs, in his nicht gown,
Tirlin' at the window, cryin' at the lock,
"Are the weans in their beds? --for it's noo
|HAVE YOUR CLASS MAKE THIS EASY
TRADITIONAL IRISH DISH OR ASK
YOUR SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM TO
MAKE IT FOR A TRADITIONAL
IRISH NUTRITIOUS LUNCH:
1 1/2 lbs potatoes 1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups milk 1 """""chopped parsley
6 scallions pepper and salt
1 1/2 cups boiled green cabbage
Boil potatoes and mash. (Instant might work
if not soupy.) Add boiling milk and scalded,
chopped scallions and beat until fluffy. Chop
cabbage and toss in melted butter. Add to
potatoes together with the parsley and fold
well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
A recipe which feeds 6-8
Liffey's father tells her about a famous poem by Nobel Prizewinner, County Sligo poet, William Butler Yeats, called:
|THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE 1892
By William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnets's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand by the roadway, or on the pavement gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
Discussion Questions and Word Use
** Why does Liffey Rivers become so upset
when people call her 'Shannon?'
(eg: insecurity, low self-esteem, loneliness)
** Why do you think Liffey is so excited
about meeting Sinead at the Beltra Feis?
(pronounced "fesh" and "Sha-nade")
** Liffey Rivers has several superstitious quirks and
What are they and why do you think she behaves so
(eg.: Liffey MUST eat certain foods the night before
(spaghetti and meatballs), pgs. 71, 78, 81-82, 89 and 91,
and morning of her Irish dance competitions for fear she
will perform poorly if she does not).
** Discuss people you know who have
superstitious beliefs (eg: wearing 'lucky socks' for
** Search for famous people mentioned in The Winking
Judge who have or had Liffey-like superstitions. (e.g.:
Napoleon feared cats (ailurophobia) and the number 13.
Winston Churchill petted black cats for good luck).
Liffey observes that the water of the Garavogue
River in Sligo Town is brown. Her father explains
it is because it is bog water from the nearby
WHAT IS A BOG?
** Liffey discovers something is WRONG with
a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. How does
she do this?
** Do you have a system you invented to
memorize things? If so, how does it work?
(eg: Liffey Rivers uses rhymes to count.)
CLASSROOM STUDY GUIDE
Make A Snake! Legend has it that St. Patrick
drove all the snakes in Ireland into the sea. It
is true that there are no snakes in Ireland
today!! Have your students make a snake using
the directions below, as you explain to them
the scientific reasons why there are no snakes
in Ireland today --or for that matter, New
Zealand, Iceland, etc. either!!
Old sock--a long, green gym sock would be best.
White socks would work with green markers, but
must be colored before stuffing.
Clean rags-have your students bring from home.
Green and Brown Markers
Old Green beads from costume jewelry
Buttons for eyes
Red ribbon or yarn for tongue
Stuff the socks with cut up rags. Close off
sock ends with rubber bands--taking care to
pad the head end of the snake with a bit
Hot glue buttons for eyes, beads to decorate
and tongue-red ribbon or yarn.
Imaginative Diorama created by Irish
Dancer Cailyn for her Mystery of the
Winking Judge book report..