Don’t look Ethel !

“Let us go now, my one true love
Call the gasman, cut the power out
We can set out, we can set out for the distant skies
Watch the sun, watch it rising in your eyes”

Cave/ Ellis

When I was 7 there was a novelty single out called ‘The Streak’ that got to #1 in both the UK and the US. It was done in the style of an on the scene reporter interviewing someone who had witnessed a streaker and each verse ended with the witness saying he’d called out to his wife “Don’t look Ethel !” , but it was too late and there would be a play on words, “…she’d already been mooned” etc..

I used to sing it in the kitchen when our own kids were young, and I always sang :

“Don’t look Ethel !

But it was too late , she’d already been compromised”

Looking up the lyrics just now I’ve discovered, yet again, that the lyrics I remembered were never there.

The only reason this popped into my head was that on Tuesday I had to go for my six monthly Xray and CT scan and whilst lying back in the CT scanner, admiring the lovely new ceiling photo they have of flowers and a bright blue sky, and enjoying the sensation of the radioactive contrast die warming the backs of my ears and my backside, I spotted a small sign on the scanner a few centimetres from my nose, which read “LASER ! Do not look in aperture.” This obviously led to me staring into the aperture incessantly.

It was like leaving a big red button on a desk with a large arrow pointing at it saying “DO NOT TOUCH THE BIG RED BUTTON!”

During our marathon training if I had a penny for every time we came to a sign that said ‘Danger – Do not enter’, or ‘Road Closed’, and Ray immediately said, hopping over the warning ropes “Come on , let’s see what’s up here.” I would have 13 pennies.

We’re finally getting to run in the marathon this Sunday. We’re both pretending to be dreading it, but really looking forward to it. Really, really looking forward to it.

In preparation this is supposed to be a relaxing week, less running, more resting. But it just hasn’t worked out like that. I’ve had the fantastic experience of speaking in 4 local schools this week , again having the chance to talk to amazing kids about our next Drumlin Giants. The questions are always the best part.

“Why don’t you make a giant footballer ?”

From what team ?

“Liverpool !”

Why would we make a giant from the worst team in football ?

“Liverpool are magic ! You must support United.”


“Everton ?”

Who in their right mind would support Everton ?

Several kids turn in unison and all point at a wee fella “SEAN !”

I quickly hurry along the next slide. The next slide contains a video featuring the construction of Roddy Den Drum, our first Drumlin Giant. A wee hand shoots up,  I point at her and say “Yes ?”.

“That’s Benny Magennis in that video.”

It is.

“He’s my uncle.”

I’m sorry for your troubles.

The girl beside Benny’s niece turns to her and asks “Is he dead ?”

“I don’t think so” Benny’s niece replies.

I moved the slides on again….

There are many questions, and there are many answers. And sometimes they match.

A great question I got was “Where do you get the ideas for your stories ?” and I answered ‘Everywhere’.

I’d told them that one of our new Giants, Ailinn, would be a lady shaped like a tree and that we would be placing her near the Yew Tree Walk. I’d explained that Yew trees are associated with long life and hope and that you could make a wish or tell Ailinn your hopes or dreams and that she would help you if she could. I told them that a lady called Frances Murray had owned Rossmore Park, and Monaghan Town, before the Rossmores. She had become the Countess of Clermont and had a large house in London, 44 Berkley Sq., where she and her husband entertained the Prince of Wales, and that they were also summer guests each year of Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France.

I said that in Versailles , Marie Antoinette had a garden of her own where she built a grotto, on top of which there is a large yew tree. She gave her Monaghan friend Frances a sprig of this yew tree to plant at home. The Yew Tree Walk in Rossmore is the longest in the British Isles.

I also told them that when the Revolution happened and Marie Antoinette lost her head, that all her jewellery went missing, including the French Blue, the largest blue stone in the world at 60 carats. I then asked them if they knew what the name of the castle at Lough Muckno in Castleblayney was called, and they correctly answered Hope Castle.

I told them that 50 years after Marie Antoinette’s French Blue diamond went missing the Hope family revealed to the world that they had discovered an incredibly large blue diamond, the Hope Diamond, which is 45 carats, and is today in the Smithsonian in Washington DC, and has now been proved to be a recut version of the original French Blue.

I suggested that it was a rather large coincidence that Frances Murray , from Monaghan, a friend of Marie Antoinette’s, took back to Rossmore only sprigs of yew trees from Versailles, but that a recut diamond turns up in the possession of another Monaghan family years later that is the same diamond.

And most importantly , where are the other 24 carats ?

Could they be in the Yew Trees in Rossmore, in the gift of Ailinn to dispose of as she saw a need ?

All we do is connect the dots, and then they are stories.

At the Gaelscoil yesterday I told them that I’d been to 7 schools over the last 2 weeks and only had one more to go on Friday, but that so far they had asked the best questions. When we finished and I was packing up a wee girl came up and asked :

“What school are you seeing tomorrow ?”


“Tell them I said ‘Glaslough sucks !” and she turned to go.

Wait. Who will I say said that.

“They’ll know.” And off she sauntered.

There’s a story there.



P.S. Ray and I are overwhelmed at the response we’ve had to our Crocus Cancer Care, you are all LEGENDS ! Thank you all sooooooo much.

Author: paul

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