Friday, June 19, 2015

My Short Life As A Feis Stage Monitor

tem·po (tĕm′pō) 
 n. pl. tem·pos or tem·pi (-pē) 
 1. Music The speed at which music is or ought to be played

I still have nightmares about my afternoon as a stage monitor at the Milwaukee Feis many years ago. 


It was so very, very hot. At least 98 degrees in the shade of the Hornpipe tent at mid-afternoon.

I do not remember the exact age groups of the unfortunate dancers I dealt with--but they were all very small and totally adorable. Probably U-10. And there were a LOT of them! 

Unfortunately, I was way more clueless than they were. I did not know that there were two tempos to choose between for their Hornpipe steps. 

One by one, the little faces kept coming at me asking if it was a fast or slow Hornpipe. How cute I thought! 

I asked what they knew how to do (logical) and then said (stupidly) "just do the one you know." 

I really did not know there was any difference. I just thought the little girls were being extra nervous about nothing. 

Well...most of them are probably still in therapy. 

They lined up, the musician (I cannot remember his instrument) started playing and well over half of the little ones on stage burst into tears--the two little girls who were trying to dance and the long line behind them waiting for their turn.

 I guess I must have told the musician something about speed but I think I just agreed with him when he told me which tempo he was going to start with.
What is the big deal about tempo? I thought again. It's a Hornpipe tempo!

The adjudicator immediately stopped the competition and we sorted their speeds out eventually. 
One little girl was too distraught to continue. 
I still feel ridiculous. And guilty. I had a dancing daughter and had never asked her about speeds. I guess I had never noticed her speeds...
It was entirely my fault.
All those poor-little-adorable sobbing Irish dancers.
I hope they have or will forgive me for my ignornace. 
They deserved better! 


Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Thinking about losing some weight? A bit of advice: Do it BEFORE you attempt going to Inishmurray Island off the west coast of County Sligo. It is a great place to wander around. There are ancient monks' Beehive Houses, cursing stones on stone altars and an amazing landscape. The only problem is, you have to actually get OUT of the tourist boat that brings you to this Island to see all these wonderful antiquities...and that, PLEASE PLEASE believe me, is no small feat! They ought to tell their potential passengers to lose 25 pounds and work out for six months prior to departure. And they ought to screen passengers. In my case, it would have been the charitable thing to do.  

IN THE BEGINNING: We had guests from West Virginia who wanted to go to Inishmurray Island.  We had always meant to do it--so we made arrangements with a boat which held I think around 12 people. We would share the cost. Sounded good. For two days the excursion had to be put off due to high waves. Totally okay with me. 

ON THE THIRD DAY: The land phone rang early. It was time to go.

THE MIDDLE: We four boarded the ship with a group of strangers, split the cost, paid the captain and took off. We could see the Island ten miles off the shore waiting for us. The waves were not too bad. Too much for me but then a bathtub surge is too much for me.

Outside the haven of the harbor, however, things got a bit rougher. I looked around the boat for the life preservers. Just in case. I counted ONE big one. ONE. Trying to keep my composure, I informed my group that the only child on board would be the one designated for the life preserver. The rest of us would just have to drown....

Soon the waves were so high it was like looking down from an airplane, not a boat. I closed my eyes and did not open them again until we were about 500 yards from the Island. It looked very inviting--cliffs and seals and birds... No sign of the monk stuff yet, but then they would have built their monastery and houses a bit away from the cliffs and sea.

THE END: We pulled up next to a small cliff. I looked around for the dock. There was none. We hooked up to a piece of steel jutting out of some rocks beneath the cliff. The 'captain' cut the motor. We had arrived. Not wanting to display panic for a second time, I kept my mouth shut.

A step ladder appeared. It was obvious to me immediately that it was not nearly high enough to meet up with the top of the cliff. I am somewhat learning disabled with regard to distances but I could tell without much calculating that this step ladder was not even close to being tall enough.  
I still kept my mouth shut because I was afraid gibberish would come out if I tried speech. How were we passengers supposed to get OUT of this boat and up on the mainland? We were going to be docked here for three hours. It was obvious. We were going to climb up the ladder and be hoisted if we could not hoist ourselves. The fit men and women did not need to be hoisted. They used their arms and upper body strength to pull themselves up and on to the rocks with someone on the boat deck below ready to catch them if they slipped. No one did. I waited to be last with a few other older women who also had a bit of extra weight situated on their bottoms. What was to become of us? I knew. Someone was going to pull our arms up on to the cliff and someone else was going to heave us upward from below—pushing our bottoms up with their bare hands.

It was every bit as horrifying as I had feared. I was hoisted and heaved. No wonder the seals hang around the landing dock for entertainment. My ‘show’ was an Academy Award winner for sure.

The Island was almost worth it--almost. Don't even ask what the trip back to the mainland was like.    Brenna Briggs is the author of THE LIFFEY RIVERS IRISH DANCER MYSTERIES.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day The Liffey Rivers Way

You can have your cake and eat it too on Saint Patrick's Day if you read a Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mystery while you  indulge!

Go to for book descriptions and purchasing info. 
There are seven books and another coming soon. is selling all of the books heavily discounted at the moment. 
It's an everybody wins situation as I get a royalty and you save a LOT of money.

You can order at any bookstore as well.
Readers from 8 to 14. 

Or from web site with personalized author's greeting and a good luck spaghetti and meatballs charm. 

   Brenna Briggs is the author of the Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mysteries.

This series of "Tween" books by Brenna
Briggs has everything: a great mystery,
Irish culture, and  plenty of Irish dancing.
Brenna Briggs writes with flair and passion,
and her novels fill a  yawning gaping hole in
literature  for Irish-American girls. Write on,
Ms. Briggs! We can't wait for the rest of
Liffey's adventures!"
          BellaOnline: Irish Culture Editor

Wednesday, January 7, 2015



The first LIFFEY RIVERS IRISH DANCER MYSTERY, THE MYSTERY OF THE SPARKLING SOLO DRESS CROWN, was a No. One Best Seller on Amazon throughout much of December in the Dance Fiction category.

I finally finished THE MYSTERY OF THE POINTING DOG, the 7th Liffey Rivers book (No. 6 is the Short Story Anthology) which takes up where No. 5 THE ALASKAN SUN leaves off.

In The Mystery of the Pointing Dog, Liffey has moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where I too happen to live! It's a lovely place. Especially at Christmas. The suspended Christmas tree is not far from the place where William Caffee was hung in 1842. Many people here say that his ghost (and others) roam the streets of the Point. The Mystery of the Pointing Dog covers this subject in depth.

I was able to travel to Virginia for the Mcgrath Feis where I stayed with my brother Reggie and his wife Cassie in Elk Ridge, Maryland.. Reggie's kitchen looks like it belongs in a large restaurant. I have never been in such an enormous 'family' kitchen. I still regret sharing the amazing crab cakes they served. I had to apply the self-control I learned from being taught by nuns for 12 years not to grab them and lock myself in one of their many bathrooms to gorge on them. As it was, I had to settle for 1 1/2 cakes. Sigh.

On the way to Virginia and Maryland, my sister Mary Kay and I picked up our Aunt Patsy in McKeesport, PA, and we stopped at Dollie's Tea Room in Clear Spring MD because Patsy was born on a dessert table or so the legend goes. We definitely need to do this again!

The McGrath Feis in Manassas,Virginia, was great! Met up with lots of Liffey readers and was introduced to future ones!

Reggie took us to a restaurant in Washington DC where we had lunch with my nephew, Christopher, who is a seminarian with the Incarnate Word priests in DC.
I tend not to get out much! The next Big Event for me in 2014 was the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio. I love this place! It was my second year there in the Authors' Tent and I am hoping to return yet again this year on July 31, August 1 and 2. It is comparable in size to the huge Irish Fest in Milwaukee but in my opinion, much more fun and way less expensive.It is also very author-friendly. The above photo was taken in the tent where I spoke and these very talented ladies danced and discussed (in our packed tent) their individual experiences with Irish dancing. 

OOPS! I am out of sequence! In June I was lucky enough to get to the San Jose Lucky 7's Feis in California! It was an incredibly memorable experience on different levels. Lots of older readers touched base with me.  Got to meet Elizabeth, (below). She wrote a great essay about a Liffey book some years ago. In fact, I have it posted on my web site on the first page down at the bottom. Some of the older girls discussed the short stories (now in an anthology FOUR MINI MYSTERIES) I used to write for Irish Dancing and Culture Magazine and told me how much they miss them. All in all it was a very inspirational event! Totally cheered me up.

I had a real vacation as well in California! My west coast liaison, Penny Page, (below) not only was a great help at the book table, she also arranged a wine tour for us just outside of Half Moon Bay. Donna Drake (photo under Penny) has been to many vineyards but this was my first. 'Nebbia' means 'fog' in Italian.
Out there having fun in that warm California sun....

Donna Drake (my assistant) and and I stayed with Penny at her lovely condo in San Carlos, only 30 minutes from San Jose.

Before I went home to Wisconsin, I met up with my BFF Ann Strong and she gave us a great tour of San Francisco where she has lived since the mid 70's. I had not seen her since then!

My last Liffey event of the year was the Mid-America Oireachtas in Minneapolis. Way too much snow there for a November but otherwise a very nice facility for an Oireachtas. My son Shannon drove me through a snowstorm to get there. I hate snow and all winter ponder why I am living in Wisconsin. I don't have any good answer.

I was very happy to meet up at the O with so many readers from the 'past.' I met the girls above at the Ozark Mountain Feis in 2011 in Branson, MO.

I will try hard to get out more in 2015. I was busy working on The Mystery of the Pointing Dog all through 2014 which prevented me from going to many events. I am still writing lots (next Liffey book is THE MYSTERY OF THE WHISPERING TREES) but I plan to make time this year to keep in touch with the outside world! Hope to see you soon! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 


Friday, December 5, 2014


There are many options as to how/where you can find THE LIFFEY RIVERS IRISH DANCER MYSTERIES:
Okay--all of the world-wide Amazon sites will sell you a Liffey Rivers book.
Australia, however, will only sell you a Liffey Kindle book. 
Only books one through five are available in Kindle format. 

INDIES:  Any independent book store will order the Liffey Rivers books for you.
Chain Book Stores will all order the Liffey Rivers books too.

Irish Stores known (by me) to carry the books--there are lots more but I do not see most of the orders:  
              Irish Seams in Rockville, MD
              Paddy's On the Square in Buffalo Grove, Illinois
              The Foundry Books in Mineral Point, Wisconsin
              Atkinson Irish Products in White Lake, Michigan
              The Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio
              Triskelt, Concord, California

South Africa:


Web Site at (USA only) ORDERS PAGE

Brenna Briggs is the author of the Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mysteries

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Speaking at the Pendarvis Historic Site on a recent Sunday morning was fun!


Doing 'your thing' at 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning is definitely not a prime time happening. I was grateful to the people who turned up at the PENDARVIS HISTORIC SITE to hear about my new mystery, THE MYSTERY OF THE POINTING DOG, and very impressed with what they added to the 'event.' There were a few retired teachers who knew things I had not discovered doing extensive research over two years. They were amazing.To be honest, I had not expected anyone to come at such an off time and tried to hide my surprise when the little room filled up. The give and take exchanges with this group of people were truly wonderful. We stayed together until I was bumped by another speaker an hour and a half later. And they bought all the books I had brought with me! 
Here are some photos I took with my crummy camera while waiting for the door to be unlocked:

PENDARVIS closes at the end of October. It's a lovely place with costumed guides (presenters) and many of the original stone cottages the Cornish miners built in the mid-1800's can be found on the site as well as throughout Mineral Point.


Brenna Briggs is the author of The Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mysteries

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Follow the Liffey Rivers Road to Cornish Festival In Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

There will be Figgy Hobbin and Pasties and special brews. Talks and demonstrations and tours. And me.
I will be talking on Sunday, September 28 at the Education Center at the Pendarvis Historic Site from 11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
My new book (the seventh Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mystery) THE MYSTERY OF THE POINTING DOG has been waiting in the sidelines while lots of 'old stuff' has been sorted out. It is already on Amazon and other online sites but not really officially launched. Amazon says it was published last March which I have chosen to ignore. It takes way too much time to figure out dates online vs. real time.
Anyway, I am excited about the Cornish Festival. I mention the Cornish settlers (Cousin Jacks and Cousin Jennys) in my new book often. They contributed an ambiance and cuisine around here which Mineral Point has carefully  preserved.  Such as:


Gorgeous Limestone and Sandstone Buildings
I begin THE MYSTERY OF THE POINTING DOG on November 1, 1842, which was an unseasonably warm day for this part of Wisconsin. It is also the day that young William Caffee was hung at the bottom of the hill depicted in the above photo in front of a crowd that some say was made up of close to 5,000 people. This gruesome event is described through the (deliberately) closed eyes of a 10-year-old little girl who was dragged there by her older brother. After the hanging, time shifts forward to 'today,' an unseasonably cold November 1 in Mineral Point, and Liffey Rivers, when she tries to do an Irish dance step and launch herself over the huge pile of snow blocking her path, but intersects with the past instead.

  This book is already available online and can be ordered through bookstores. Locally, it will turn up next Sunday at a raffle after my talk.