Some Little Things

“You know, I could write a book.
And this book would be think enough to stun an ox. Cause I can see the future and it’s a place – about 70 miles east of here.
Where it’s lighter.
Linger on over here.
Got the time?
Let X=X.”

Laurie Anderson

This morning , perhaps as you read this, I will be talking to a group of local school kids about The Drumlin Giants, storytelling , and the true history on Monaghan.

Three local schools’ Sixth Classes are working on a project together and they’ve picked The Drumlin Giants as their theme. They will each design a Giant,write a story about their own Giant , they’ll create Giants in Minecraft , and then share them among each other.

How cool is that ?

I’ve been asked to give them a chat on how we came up with the idea in the first place and how we put the stories together.

A lady from RTE once asked me the same question and I emailed her this reply :

“We didn’t come up with the idea, or the folklore. We found the stories in a locked cabinet in an old library in St.Macartan’s College. They were written on vellum in Farney Gaelic and we couldn’t believe what they told once we had them translated. We then went looking for the Giants and found Roddy in the rhododendrons. All we did was clear some undergrowth to reveal him. We’ve discovered five in total so far and from the old manuscripts we know there are at least 5 more to be discovered.

Or, we were just sick to the back teeth of fairy gardens and decided , over many glasses of Rioja, to try Giants.

And the stories ? Monaghan is littered with stories.”

She never got back to me.

I will start by showing them a series of pictures :

The giant dragon skull from Game of Thrones , series 7 episode 2.

A school crest from Santiago in Chile, the Juan McKenna O’Reilly Military High School.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Module Eagle.

Fontaines DC playing Liberty Belle.

I will ask them what connects all five things.

I will tell them the answer, and then we’ll take it from there.

I’ve also set up my presentation so that as soon as the Fontaines’ image appears, the song starts blasting out. I’m looking forward to that bit ! And , no , I didn’t send my presentation to the teachers in advance. Where would be the fun in that ?

They will also be the first to hear about our next Giant….Druid.

Little things like this mean the world to me.

I met an audiologist for the first time yesterday.

“Your hearing is above average. “ Joanne , the audiologist said.

I smiled broadly behind my mask.

“Do you listen to a lot of Radiohead ?”

Yes ! I do.

“That’s obvious, as only people with exceptional hearing truly appreciate the finer notes and layers in Radiohead’s music…”

OK, I might have imagined the last part, but I was buzzing about the above average hearing. So much so that I later mentioned it to my SoulMate, my oncologist, and my oncologist’s liaison nurse…and someone else I met in the hall, not sure what his title was, but he seemed impressed.

Another Little Thing.

My Soulmate and I went for an appointment. As it was such a glorious day we were allowed to wait out in the garden, and they said they’d call us when it was our turn. You could hear kids playing in a school playground in the distance, the hum of traffic, the odd plane overhead, but after a few moments we were in relative silence, watching some Magpies.

My Soulmate pointed to one who was cleaning himself in a puddle.

“His partner’s over there, getting their nest ready.” I said , nodding to a small wall with a few small trees behind it. “And there’s another pair over to your left. Spring is in the air.”

My Soulmate nodded to our Magpie still cleaning and preening himself. “Does he know it’s Spring ?”

“He’s not having that bath for nothing !”

And then we were called inside.

Afterwards I thought about the garden, sitting in the sun with my SoulMate , and looking at the horny Magpies. I like things like that.

Little things.

Oh ! And I got the coolest pyjamas EVER this week !

Radiohead pyjamas !

I hope that some little thing has brightened your week.



P.S. This is the version of Liberty Belle that Sixth Class are bopping to this morning.

P.P.S. This is the story of Juan McKenna…..and a recipe for Tacos

It had been a long dusty day of travelling so when Seany and Nikita finally arrived in the oldest bar in Valapraiso, the Cinzano. They settled at the bar ordered two bottles of ice cold Cerveza Cristal and started to relax.  They’d been travelling for months now but their enthusiasm for new frontiers and exploration was growing. The bar was relatively empty and they asked the bar man for two more beers. As he returned with them he overheard Seany saying “ You know this place feels familiar somehow…like home.”

The barman asked casually where they were from.

“Ireland” they answered in unison.

“Which part ?” he asked again.

“Do you know Ireland at all ?” Nikita asked in reply in that wonderful Ulster habit of answering a question with another question.

“Indeed  ! “ the barman replied “ My country was liberated from the Spanish by Irishmen. My Great grandfather  fought with them at the Battle of Membrillar.”

“Wow ! “ Seany said , and reaching out his hand to shake the barman’s he said “We’re from Monaghan.”

“No way !” the barman replied “ My great grandfather’s commander was from Monaghan ! What a small place the world really is. My new friends , my name is Javiera Rojas, what is yours ?”

“My name is Seany Mckenna and this…..”

“No way !” Javiera interrupted Seany “ Did you say McKenna ?” Sean nodded. “From Monaghan in Ireland ???” Sean nodded again, nervously this time. “ You wait right there. Don’t move, I’ll be right back.” Javiera left the bar shouting “Papa ! Papa !”.

Nikita looked at Seany and said “ Right, this is weird…even for Chile. Grab you bags, we’re out of here.” They stood up from their stools and were bending down to grab their bags when Javiera returned , escorting a very old gummy smiling man .

“Es Verdad ? Es Verdad ?” the old man asked. Javiera translated “ He wants to know is it true that you are McKenna from Monaghan ?”

Seany looked nervously at Nikita. At this point he was beginning to suspect that some previous Mckenna had run out of the bar without paying his tab, but Nikita smiled at him and nodded, so he took his passport out of his bag and showed it to Javiera and the old man, opening it at the page with Seany’s name , place of birth , which was indeed Monaghan, and the obligatory embarrassing photo.

The old man blessed himself  saying “Gracias a Dios !” repeatedly. Javiera grabbed Seany and kissed him on both cheeks and then grabbed Nikita and kissed her too.

“My friends, this is a joyous day. The commander of the rebel forces at Membrillar was Juan McKenna, from Monaghan. He had been the governor here in Valapraiso in 1811 , appointed by another great Irish man , Bernado O’Higgins. He drank in this very bar. He was friends with my family and my great great grandfather and his brothers followed him into battle against the Spanish. Juan McKenna was victorious and was appointed commandant general . My family were so proud.  The rebellion did not last long however. The Spanish came back and took control again in 1813 and Juan was exiled to Argentina. He left in a hurry, but before he went he left something here for his son to collect and asked my family to keep it safe.

He died in a duel in Buenos Aires in 1814 and never lived to see us achieve final independence in 1820. There are streets names after him everywhere, even in Santiago, the Vicuna McKenna Avenue.”

Javiera had stopped talking. He was staring at Nikita and Seany, who were staring back open mouthed. Javier asked them to sit again at the bar and he fetched beers for them all.  The old man smiled, toasted them and then took a leather lace from around his neck. At the bottom of it was a silver pen shaped object. He handed it to Seany.

Javiera spoke “ This is my grandfather and this is what General Juan McKenna asked us to keep for his son who would one day call. My grandfather did not think he would live to see this day. He is honoured to give you this gift.”

Seany hesitantly took the silver pen from the old man. He held it in his hand and gazed at it for a moment or two, consumed with the story and the bizarre turn of events. Nikki squeezed his hand. He came back to the real world. “It looks like it unscrews, should I open it ?” Nikki, Javiera and his grandfather all nodded.

He placed it on the bar and gently unscrewed it , it came apart easily in two pieces revealing a tiny scrap of paper with something written on it. Seany read it silently to himself :

“My Son,

I pray this letter finds you well. I hope that I see you again one day soon but in the event that I do not I wanted to pass on these words to you. I lived my life in the shadow of other men. I left Will Ville in Monaghan to attend the Royal Military Academy in Barcelona because that is what my father wanted. I joined the Irish Brigade in the Spanish Army because my uncle Count Alejandro O’Reilly wished me to. I fought for Spain in Peru, Argentina and Chile because my commander ordered me to.

I wished I’d stayed at home.

I met your mother late in my life, but she was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. We had you , your sister and brother and were content. When the war broke out my friend Bernado O’Higgins begged me to help and I joined him in the rebellion. It was a success.

I wished I’d stayed at home.

All I’d ever wanted was to farm the land around our house, and later I only wanted to be with your mother. I am now exiled.

This is what I wish for you.

Follow your dreams, no one else’s.

When you find the love of your life, never let go.

Build your house, make it your home.

I love you always,

Juan McKenna “

A tear ran down Seany’s cheek and he looked up from the letter to see three expectant faces staring at him. Javiera spoke first , “What does it say ?”

“It says that ,as  the descendant of General Juan McKenna , I’m entitled to free drink here for the rest of the week.”

Javiera looked startled for a moment. Nikita punched Seany’s arm , and they all laughed. He read the letter out loud to them all this time and Javiera translated it , sentence by sentence for his grandfather. This time when he had finished reading they all had a tear running down their cheeks. Javiera went to get them all more beers.

Nikita smiled at Seany, the way she does, and asked “ So what are you thinking now ?”

“I’m thinking I love you, Monaghan and South American food…..not necessarily in that order.”

She punched him again.

“I mean , exactly in that order. I’m just not exactly sure how to make that all work.”

She smiled and kissed him on the cheek, then said “ You’re a clever boy, I’m sure we’ll work something out.”

RECIPE –  BLASTA’s Braised BBQ pork shoulder Taco w/ Apple infused creamcheese & Pico De Gallo Salsa 🙂

Idea for recipe: Inspired by a combination of our love for street food, mexican flavours, and our recent trip through South America.

Serves :10-12people


*3kg Pork Shoulder. Ask for it ‘Boned & Trimmed’ from your Butcher (neck or Butt will work also)

*30ml Organic Honey.

*30g Brown Sugar


METHOD: Lightly score the meat. Coat in honey then rub in your dry ingredients and leave in fridge overnight in an airtight container or bag. Preheat oven to 160°. Place Pork in a crockpot/Dutch oven(or foil covered deep tray etc). Pour in Pork Stock or Apple Juice can be used. We use a house Master Stock with a Smokey pork flavour. Also a perfect time to throw in your unused coriander stems. After 3 hours,pork should be firm bup falling apart when shredded with 2 forks. Shred all pork. Save braising liquid (we reduce half and pour back over shredded pork. Other half saved for our house BBQ sauce).


* 6 large vine ripened tomatoes.

*1 large onion.

*1 lemon (or lime).

*2 cloves of fresh garlic

* Handful of coriander leaf (parsley will do for the coriander haters)

*Salt and pepper.

METHOD: Deseed tomatoes. Slice, then dice finely. Finely dice onion and garlic. Toss everything together in a bowl. Roughly chopped coriander and add. Squeeze at least half your lemon in there. Season to taste. This should now have a nice fresh citrusy flavour.


*100g soft cream cheese.

*15ml fresh squeezed apple juice.

*1 granny Smith apple.

METHOD: Whisk the cream cheese and slowly add apple juice. Then grate in half the granny Smith apple for a bit of fresh bite.


You can get many recipes for a fresh taco shell online. Our preference is a freshly made lightly grilled soft shell. You can also purchase taco shells in most supermarkets if your in a rush. Our fresh tacos have only 4 ingredients (which we have to keep a company secret for now).

NOW BUILD YOUR TACOS. Perfect for a DAY Buffet or can be plated up 2 per portion.

Author: paul

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