Monday, December 17, 2012

Brenda’s Recipe for roast spiced Winter vegetables


Red Onion
[You can also add squash and red pepper but it works very well with just carrots and parsnips]
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Orange zest
Garlic (fresh or ground]
Brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Cut and prepare the carrots and parsnips into uneven wedge/chunks about 1 – 2 inches
Par boil the veg so as they are soft but with a little bit of resistance – you will finish them in the oven
Cut and slice the onion into large uneven chunks – you actually break it up into layers and cut the layers
Put a shallow dish of a decent amount of olive oil into an oven and heat until it is piping hot

The spice mix: 
While that is happening you can prepare the spice mix
Add two teaspoons of ground coriander and ground cumin to a dish/mixing bowl (I use a mug at times)
Add two teaspoons of brown sugar (light or medium rather than muscovado)
Zest a large orange and add that to the mix
Add a couple of grinds of salt and pepper from a grinder
Crush and mince one garlic clove or add half a teaspoon of dried garlic
Mix all of this together and set to one side
The smell should be fantastic

Back to the veg: 
Drain the parsnips and carrots very well – there should be no moisture as it will cool down the oil
Take the tray of oil out out of the oven and if you can place it over a ring of the hob turned up high so as the veg sizzle when they hit it. Then add the onion and mix around – all the time getting a good sizzle.
Finally add the mix of spices and seasoning and give it a good mix around.
The smell at this stage should be of pungent orange and garlic and spices.
Get the mix back into a hot oven and bake until the veg are all soft and caramelised and gorgeous. I always give it about 25-30 minutes.

Serving suggestion:
Serve with your Christmas turkey for a real heart warming taste of seasonal sumptuousness. For an even better effect, bring to the table straight from the oven and let people help themselves to large dollops. 

For larger gatherings you will have to increase the amount of veg and also adjust the spices accordingly. This is also great with roast chicken and roast beef all year round.


Brenda’s Recipe for Christmas Day Stuffing

This serves 6 – 8 people

  • 3 sticks of celery
  • One whole green/red apple
  • Breadcrumbs
  • One white onion
  • One small yellow or orange pepper
  • Salt/pepper
  • Fresh herbs
  • Butter

Method - 

  • Chop the onion, pepper, apple and celery into small pieces – very small diced pieces are preferable.
  • Put a small amount of cooking oil and a knob of butter into a pan
  • Add the onions, pepper, celery and garlic. When they start to hiss and sizzle, turn them down to simmer. You are not so much cooking them but sweating them off.
  • After a couple of minutes take them off the heat and place to one side
The Breadcrumbs 

  • In a large mixing bowl add the breadcrumbs – you can buy ready-made breadcrumbs in the shops – go for one large bag. If you are making your own breadcrumbs I go by the rule of 2 slices per person and then 2 for the pot!
  • Pour the breadcrumbs into the bowl and add some pepper.
  • Then it’s time for the herbs. Fresh herbs are preferable – parsley, thyme, sage etc
  • If you can’t be bothered with all that hassle then use a jar of mixed herbs and be generous. I would add 3-4 tea spoons of mixed herbs.
  • Then add in some paprika for a nice wintery kick – about half a teaspoon. Make sure to add pepper to the mix at this stage but go easy on the salt – just a pinch or two.
  • Now add in all the vegetables that you have already sweated in the pot and mix it all together.
  • The smell should be divine. If it’s not then you need to add more herbs!
  • Through a decent number of knobs of butter into the pot you sweated the veg in and heat until melted. Then add to the stuffing mix and watch it all coming together nicely.
  • If it is looking a bit dry then de glaze the pan using a small amount of hot water and add that to the stuffing.

  • Place in a wide/shallow dish and cover with tinfoil.
  • Bake for about 30-40 minutes and half way through the cooking take it out of the oven and mix it all up to make sure you are getting it all cooked through. About 10 minutes from the end of the cooking take off the tinfoil so as you get a nice crispy crust on the top.
  • Serve to a very happy family on Christmas day.

And finally
  • You can vary the fruit/veg that you add seasonally – cranberries work well or apricots instead of the apple. You can also try walnuts along with the apple and the celery.
  • This is one of the nicest stuffing recipes you will ever taste.
  • Save some [if you can] for a cold sandwich later in the day.
  • Enjoy and let me know how it turned out.

Happy Christmas xx

Brenda Drumm 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The ABC of being a teenager

Just dropping in to recommend a new blog by my 15 year old daughter Emma. She is writing the ABC of being a teenager in Ireland in 2012. She has posted A - C to date and they are well worth a read. Take a look and share it:


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

7 simple rules for protecting my 15 year old online

Parents have to get involved with their children when it comes to using any sort of online space.

Would you give your 15 year old the keys of your car and just say 'off with you'? 
I don't think so! Yet so many parents are giving their kids smartphones, wifi access at home, laptops etc and yet they are not teaching them how to use them, how to behave online. 

Kids need to be given a set of rules about using any sort of online space:

My simple rules are:

1. Permission: My 15 year old is not allowed to join any new social media or other site without talking to me first 

2. Facebook: 
  • She has been shown how to set her privacy settings to the max, shown where to go and what to do if someone manages to get to her with anything sinister, 
  • She is only allowed to be friends with people she actually knows and is friends with
  • She has been told not to post or tell anyone where she lives and to never meet anyone as a result of a connection online. 
  • She has to stay friends with me on Facebook so as I can check over her shoulder so to speak every so often to make sure things are okay with her page. This is not about spying, it's not about intruding. It's about keeping her safe. 
In the last number of months she is using Facebook less and less as she says much of what is on it is nonsense and superficial. 

3. Twitter: I let her go onto Twitter this year and again many of the same rules apply here. I also gave her a full tutorial about it before she was allowed to tweet.

4. Acceptable behaviour: I explained to her what acceptable behaviour is on any/all social media sites and that she should never go onto a social media site when she is angry about something. Let them know that they do not have to take or put up with nasty comments or threats to them on any social media platform or in real life. Make them understand what is/is not acceptable behaviour online and in real life. Tell them to come to you with event the smallest concern and to NEVER let things escalate and get out of hand. Make sure you make time to hear them and to really listen.

5. Get onto social media yourself: My daughter knows that I am immersed in and knowledgeable about social media and that I understand it. The only reason I initially joined Facebook was to be one step ahead of the kids. If your kids are going on social media then you as the parent should be on it too.  
If you are allowing your kids on social media then you have to be there too to advise them and to protect them. If you are online then you might spot and stop something developing into an issue for them. 

6. Do not ban them from social media: I don’t think the answer is to keep your kids off social media as they will just find a way to be on it on a friend’s phone or at school. The key is to teach them about it, to tell them what is/isn’t acceptable behaviour online and to give them rules and instruction in how to use it.

7. One final piece of advice. Teach your children how to do a screen grab/screenshot so if they are bullied or if someone is behaving inappropriately towards them, they can screen grab the evidence. The instructions on how to take a screen shot follow:

Taking a Screenshot

To take a screen shot please complete the following steps:

For Windows
Press the "Print Screen" button.
Open Microsoft Paint. To do this, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint.
Click inside the white part of the screen.
Go to the Edit menu and select Paste.
Click File > Save As.
In the box that pops up, change the "Save As" type to JPG.
After typing in a filename for your image, choose a location on your hard drive to save to, like the Desktop, and click "Save."

For Mac OS X
Simultaneously hold down the ⌘-Shift-4 keys.
Press the spacebar.
Click the open window that you wish to take a screen shot of. The screen shot should appear as a file on the desktop labeled "Picture 1."
Please note that in Mac OS X 10.6, the file is "Screen shot [date] at [time]."

For iPhone
Simultaneously press and hold the power and home buttons.
The screen will momentarily flash white.
The screenshot will appear in your "Camera Roll" album.

Use your phone's camera

Most kids now have a camera on their phone and if they are panicked and forget how to do a screen grab then get them to take a quick photo with their camera phone.

As a parent I can't bear the thought of another young life being lost because of cyber bullies and my heart goes out to that family – those two families who lost their beautiful daughters to cyber bullies in the last couple of weeks. 

It makes me very angry that the parents of the cyber bullies did not know where their children were online and what they were doing. Perhaps they didn’t care…..

It’s time to get serious parents and to know where your children are and what they are doing online. No one is going to do it for you so please take the time to teach, to monitor and to protect your children online. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cardinal Newman's Prayer

For a girl called Aine and her family and friends out there in the world, a well known prayer by Cardinal John Henry Newman comes to mind: 
A Daily Prayer
May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest and peace at the last.
Thinking of you Maria 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A tale of two very different customer service experiences

I firmly believe that credit should be given where credit is due, as the saying goes. But equally, especially in this day and age, bad consumer experiences should also be shared.

So here is my tale of two very different customer service experiences in the past month:

Experience 1:
At the beginning of August I was over in Kildare Village outlet and I had previously been looking at the DKNY Cosi. It's a cardigan, in lovely soft wool, that you can wear in 12 different ways. It was affordable and it was also reduced by 20 something euro on the day I went in - so I bought it.

I love it and I am learning all the different ways to wear it. Last week I was over in Kildare Village again and I happened to be wearing it. I dropped in to the DKNY shop and asked one of the sales staff if she could show me one of the ways to wear it, which she did, with a smile and a 'no problem, drop back anytime'.

I don't wear the cardigan everyday, it's a kind of a 'for good wear' piece of clothing. So, I was surprised last week to notice that the wool on the inside of the sleeve had started to fray and as the knit os so delicate, I could not imagine myself being able to repair it.

I went back over to Kildare Village today with the cardigan and I asked one of the sales girls to have a look at it. She was genuinely interested and she apologised. She said she would need to speak to a manager so off she went to find one. Within three minutes she had returned with a brand new Cosi in its plastic wrapping. Just like that!

I was stunned to be honest. There was no arguing, no quibble. The garment was just replaced - that was that. She was so polite and helpful. My daughter was with me and I said out loud 'I am very impressed by the customer service in here' and I noticed a couple of the other sales staff smiling at me.

I genuinely can't speak highly enough about the efficiency of response and how satisfied I am with the whole experience.

Job well done Kildare VIllage!
Job well done DKNY!
Job well done Irish sales staff!

Experience 2:
Now for an example of how not to do customer service.

Again, earlier in the month I was buying a birthday present for an 8 year old VIP in our house. It was lego - we all love lego and all get great enjoyment from it.

I was in the Art and Hobby Shop in Newbridge with said eight year old and I spied the leo he was asking for, for his birthday. Alien lego. Bingo! Double bingo - there was 25% off it.

On the quiet and while the eight year old's back was turned, I asked if one of the sets could be put away. I said I would be in without him in tow to fix up. I was told there was no problem and assured that the 25% would be taken off the price.

I was thrilled.

A good few days later I went back in to collect the lego and it had gone back up to full price which was a difference of almost 25 euro for the set. I explained to the person that I had been assured I would have it at the sales price. He looked at me silently and hesitated. He gave a half shrug and mumbled something. The price was the price that was on it. I asked if there was a likelihood of there being another sale and I was told the sale was over, the lego discount was finished.

I reluctantly parted with my money and got the birthday present.

A couple of days later I went back into the shop as I saw one of the girls I had originally dealt with. I told her that it was very unfair of them to have done what they did. Again I was met with a shrug and a limp explanation 'oh we had no phone number for you.......'

And then you know that thing that happens when a sales or customer relations person wants to get rid you? Yes THAT. When a second sales person comes and acts as backup and repeats, parrot like, what the first sales person has said? Yes that! Making it seem as if you are being rude or loud, which I wasn't

It was dreadful.

So then back to today and I was in the Art and Hobby shop and what did I spy? Yes the LEGO sale of 25% off is in fact back on in the shop and will run until 1st September. quelle surprise? I was disgusted.

I went up to the counter and I explained what had happened and she said 'Oh we did think of you!' REALLY?

I told her that I thought it was spectacularly unfair of the shop. I asked for the details of the head office for Art and Hobby in ireland and wait for it ......... I was told the following:
'I can't give out the number for the head office so you will have to take it up with our manager'.

Blunt. Rude. Abrupt.

Very badly done ART AND HOBBY SHOP!
Very badly done by the staff.
I wonder are Lego aware of the way their customer relations are being handled.

So we took and will take our business to Smyth's or Tescos.

Oh I know the difference was only 25 euro, you might say. 25 euro is 25 euro, but it was not so much the money, it was the attitude and the rudeness and the complete lack of reasonability by the staff and the store.

A chalk and cheese experience.

So I am off now to google DKNY to send or post on FB a positive feedback message and I am off to google the head office for Art and Hobby Shop, because the staff in their Whitewater shop would not give it to me. I think they might be interested in reading my letter....... but then again. maybe they won't.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Words from Ashley Rice

I found this today on a bookmark. It is a piece written by Ashley Rice:

You are a lover of day you will write a book

People turn to you because you give voice to dreams, notice little things, and make otherwise impossible imaginings appear real.

You are a rare bird who thinks the world is beautiful enough to try to figure it out, who has the courage to dive into your wild mind and go swimming there.

You are someone who still believes in cloud watching, people watching, daydreaming, tomorrow, favourite colours, silver clouds, dandelions, and sorrow.

Be sacred. Be cool. Be wild. Go far.

Words do more than plant miracle seeds. With you writing them, they can change the world.

Ashley Rice

Monday, July 9, 2012

I just want to be OK today

Today is the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant. For most people who have cancer, the five year mark is something to be celebrated and a sort of security blanket - if I have made it to five years then I am going to be ok - right?

With myeloma [bone marrow cancer] there are no guarantees and it's a case of taking it a day, week, month and year at a time and that is fine - really!

I did not imagine that I would still be here five years later. This day five year's ago I was so sick. I was full of hope that the stem cell transplant would be a success, but I was scared at times, very very scared.

It has been an amazing five years and not just because I have gotten to do some amazing things like:

  1. Having Brian Kennedy play a private concert in my room
  2. Getting to take a family holiday to Rome
  3. Being the Executive Producer of a Christmas song that went to Number 1 on iTunes and to number 8 in the Irish music charts
  4. Climbing a couple of mountains
  5. Having the amazing experience that was #twitterxmassingle
  6. Meeting Ingrid Michaelson the co-writer of Winter Song and getting to hang out with her in her dressing room
  7. Doing all sorts of national media about my cancer and about Winter Song
All of things have been great, but what I have enjoyed most is just being here with my husband and kids and getting to be part of so many milestones in their lives.

I have had so much support from friends and family and others. 

I have had set backs but the last two years have been very good health wise.

So tonight a word of thanks to the man above and a prayer for all those who are battling this disease every day. My hope is that we will find a cure and that someday we will all BE OK.

Ingrid Michaelson BE OK

If you want to read my Then and Now blog you can do so at

9 July 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

A significant milestone

Next Monday 9 July will mark the fifth anniversary of my successful stem cell transplant for Myeloma - a type of bone marrow cancer, which I was diagnosed with in 2007. A stem cell transplant you say? What the heck is that?

Here's the science bit: A stem cell transplant means they trick your stem cells and get them circulating outside your bone marrow and in your blood. Then they harvest them by using a very fancy machine that you have to stay wired up to for at least one and possibly three days. They take the blood out and grab the little stem cells and then give you back your blood. It's all very technical and incredibly cutting edge.

That's part one of the process. Part two involves loading you with very toxic chemo which will wipe out your bone marrow and after a few days they try to rescue you from the cancer and the effects of the chemo by giving you back your own stem cells back via a transplant using the same little line into your chest. [Did I mention that the line has to be surgically inserted before anything else happens? No, well it does!]

The stem cells are given back and they are supposed to move into the bone marrow and set up home for themselves and turn into red cells, white cells and platelets! By using your own stem cells, it cuts down on the risk of rejection and the hope then is that the stem cells replace all the good cells that the bone marrow cancer had exterminated!

So that in essence is a very unscientific description of what a stem cell transplant is. That is what I had this month back in July 2007.

Did I mention that you tend to get very pukey during it? No? Well you do! I certainly did.

But here I am just about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant and I was wondering how I should celebrate? A trip? Flowers? Something EPIC? A treat? Some jewellery? No, none of the aforementioned.

I think I will keep it simple and just enjoy doing all the things I could not do during my time in hospital in July 2007 when I was gravely ill and when for a four week period:

I could not leave the room
I could not work
I could not eat
I could not drink
I could not see my kids
I could not spend time with my husband or go for dinner
I could not stand for long periods
I could not talk for a couple of days
I could not feel fresh air on my face
I could not walk to the shop
I could not see friends
I could not see my cat
I could not sit on my own chair
I could not look at food without feeling nausea
I could not pray
I could not hope
I could not live my ordinary life
I could not see a future

So five year's later I am going to keep the celebration simple because I can do all those simple things that I maybe took for granted for so long. Next Monday 9 July, the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant:

I will get up and go out and about
I will go to work
I will eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea
I will spend as much time as I like with my gorgeous kids
I will plan a meal out with my hubby
I will stand, run, jump, cycle
I will stand outside and feel the fresh air and most likely rain on my face
I will walk to the shop
I will rub the cat and hear her soothing purrs
I will sit on any chair I want to
I will delight in looking at food as I plan dinner
I will continue to pray
I will continue to be hopeful
I will live my ordinary life to the full
and most importantly
I will imagine, no, I will plan a future for myself!

Happy Myeloma anniversary to anyone who is kicking this type of cancer's butt. Hang in there and please God in our lifetime there will be a cure.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Guest post: Guardian Angel by Emma Tobin

This is a piece of writing from Emma Tobin aged 15 from Newbridge in Co Kildare. Emma is a member of the WriTeen Scene, a young adult writing group based in Co Kildare. This is an extraordinary piece of writing that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I am a little prejudiced as Emma is my daughter but this is extraordinary:

Guardian Angel

If you’ve ever felt truly invincible, you know how I felt in that moment. If not, then you can’t imagine how I felt as I flew beneath the storm –laden clouds that shrouded my city in a gloomy half-light.

It was like I had to be gentle with the world, like if I squeezed too hard it would crumble in my fingers. In that moment I held the world together and though it was terrifying it was also… exhilarating. I will never forget it – that long, perfect moment in which the world rested on my shoulders and I bore the weight. I will always remember, regardless of how much I want to forget.

It was the most painful moment of my life. My mind encompassed the world and everything in it. The revolving planet, the gravity holding humanity down, the lakes and rivers and seas, the molten core of the earth – all of it under my control.

Then it was gone and I was falling. Frozen, gaping, realising how small my mind was. It’s the kind of thing that takes your breath away. The air whipped past me, the metres between me and the pavement melted away as I wrestled for control.

I grasped my mind and forced my body to stop. I halted in mid-air and hung helpless, holding on by a thread. Then, slowly, I began to ascend.

That was when I noticed the oddly shaped form floating above me, waiting for me, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to face it. I wanted to run away and hide from the pain reverberating like the tolling of a giant bell through my skull. I wanted to hide from the fact that I’d have to spend my life living and reliving that moment. The moment I’ll never forget.

I didn’t run, partly because I was curious and partly because I knew that running wouldn’t help.
As I drew level with it, I saw the runes etched into its metal surface. It shimmered and floated, its undulating body caressing my battered frame, bathing me in soft yellow light.

I could feel the energy draining from my limbs and I realised that it was sucking the life out of me. It was tempting to embrace the light, because it promised warmth and safety and an escape from the terrible sense of responsibility that comes with holding the world together in a shaking grip. It was killing me, and I wanted to let it.

I knew that if I died, the world would too. Without someone to hold the world together it would fall apart. I knew that this was more than just what I wanted; this was the fate of the world.

So, with all the strength left in my limbs, I pushed it away and watched as it spun through the night, veering towards an apartment building. Then it stopped dead in mid-air.

Before I could draw in a ragged breath it slammed into me and I was the one spinning, still defying gravity but only just. I absorbed the kinetic energy from my own momentum and felt the energy buzz like a thousand wasps in my veins.

In one fluid movement I drew my curved hand and a half sword and smashed it into the hardened metal surface of the machine that was now trying to kill me in a more conventional manner – by breaking every bone in my body.

With a defending pop, the sword gouged a jagged hole and I, thrown back by the strength of my strike, watched as the machine exploded into a million shimmering shards of metal.

It rained down onto the city like confetti and I revelled in my own strength. It was then that I remembered why I held the world together.

If I didn’t, who else would?

Copyright: Emma Tobin 2012 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the shadow of cancer

In the past two weeks I have learned about the deaths of two people I knew from Myeloma. These deaths hit me very hard because I too have Myeloma. Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells of the bone marrow for which there is currently no cure.

I was diagnosed in January 2007. I was 38 at the time. The majority of people who get myeloma are over the age of 65. I was one of a rare breed of people who get myeloma whilst under the age of 40 – only 2% of those who get myeloma are under 40.

At the time of my diagnosis they did not really talk to me about a definitive prognosis. With myeloma there are no guarantees. A lot depends on how I respond to treatment. There might be remission. The remission might be a few months or a few years. There will definitely be a relapse, maybe even a few relapses.

Myeloma is not curable but it is treatable. But people still die from it or from complications associated with it and I am sure that I will die from it too – one day.

The news of these recent deaths have me using my calculator, working out how many years these men lived for after their myeloma diagnosis and trying to work out how many more years I might have. I know one man who has had myeloma for 21 years and is doing fine ( well as fine as you can with something like myeloma). I know a woman in America who has been living with myeloma for more than 14 years. I know another man here in Ireland who has been living with it for 15 years. I used to be able to quote the myeloma years of these two men who have recently died, but sadly I can’t anymore.

So my calculator has been out because I am not very good at Maths, not this type of maths anyway.
My children were aged 2 and 9 when I was diagnosed. Now, five years after my diagnosis, they are now aged 7 and 15. I don’t ever want to leave them. I don’t ever want to be faced with the fact that I will no longer be around to be their mother.

So today I have been scribbling sums, based on some of the myeloma years and numbers I know: 
  • Another 5 years will mean my children would be 12 and 20 which would be wonderful
  • Another 10 years will mean that my children would be aged 17 and 25 and that would be just indescribable.
  • Another 15 years will mean that my children would be 22 and 30.

I daren’t dream after that.

All I want is to be around to see them growing up into the wonderful young adults I know they will be.
I want to be around to help my daughter choose her dress for her debs, to help her with college choices and to nurture her wonderful writing talent.

My son is so little, he has so much more growing up to do and I really want to be around for all the milestones that he will go through over the next few years: First Communion, Confirmation, Secondary School, his first love.

So I am doing the numbers and they are not very easy numbers to do.

I have had a successful transplant and I am well. I am off all treatment. I am checked every 8 weeks and so far so good – the myeloma is at bay.  I am hopeful that someday there will be a cure. I really hope we get a cure so families can be spared the trauma of living with myeloma.

It’s very hard to live in the shadow of myeloma. It’s very hard to live under the shadow of any cancer. It’s very hard to hold onto dreams. But, where there is life, there is hope. I have hope. Sometimes it is hard to hold onto hope. Sometimes it is just very hard ……..

This week is Myeloma Awareness Week in Ireland. Please spread the word about Myeloma and if you can help in any way with our work and with raising money for research then please email

Brenda Drumm
June 21, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Sound of Music from a 73 year old Dominican Nun

Sr Ann McGovern OP, a Dominican Sister in her seventies has decided to share her singing talents on cd for the first time.

Sr Ann has been singing all her life and in her day she was a really good soprano. But it was not until she entered her 73rd year that she finally put a CD together. As a Dominican, a religious order referred to as the Order of Preachers, it is no surprise that Ann chose to undertake this project. She currently sings with Our Lady’s Choral Society. The Choral Society appears regularly at the National Concert Hall, accompanied by the National Sinfonia, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. The eminent Irish conductor Proinnsías Ó Duinn has been responsible for the choir’s musical development since 1979.

The Congregation Prioress, Sr Helen Mary Harmey, asked Sr Ann to record the CD so that the sisters would have her recordings as a keep-sake.  The recording project was planned and began in November 2010 when Patricia Feighery who is the music teacher in St Dominic’s School in Cabra was asked to work with Sr Ann to prepare her for the recording sessions.

Mr Ian Callanan, one of Ireland’s leading composers of liturgical music as well as a notable producer and arranger, was asked to record and produce the music with Sr Ann: “The recording took one year to complete. Sr Ann would record one song a week depending on how well her 73 year old voice would hold up. She did a great job and had a great spirit throughout the whole recording and editing process. The end result is beautiful and makes for a very easy listening CD, very peaceful and calming”, Ian explained.

The CD which is called Your Face O Lord, I Seek will be launched by Proinnsías Ó Duinn on Thursday 9th February in the Dominican Resource Centre in Cabra at 5:30pm. Your Face O Lord, I Seek contains 12 songs reflecting a variety of music and it will be available from the Dominican Sisters.

Commenting on her CD Sr Ann said: “I’m very pleased with the result and found the process to be very worthwhile, it has been an exciting journey, one that I hope will bring peace to those who listen to the CD”.


Notes to Editors: 

The full list of songs follows:How Beautiful are the Feet
  • Ave Maria
  • Sé do Bheatha ‘Mhuire
  • Hiding Place
  • Panis Angelicus
  • Be Still
  • The Lord Bless You and Keep You
  • Sé an Thiarna m’Aoire
  • Laudate
  • An Old Sacred Lullaby
  • The Little Road to Bethlehem
  • Holy Night

A copy of the cd artwork is available on request from Ian Callanan ( or (086) 249 0779

Two short samples can be heard by visiting

About the Dominican Order:
The founder of the Order of Preachers was Dominic Guzman. He was born in Caleruega in Spain in 1170. He died in 1221 in Bologna, Italy.  The first monastery of nuns was founded by Saint Dominic in Prouille near Fanjeaux in the South of France.  The first Dominicans friars, came to Dublin in 1224.The history of the Cabra Dominicans Sisters  (Ireland) dates back to Galway 1644.  A group came to Channel Row, Dublin in 1717. In the 1860’s, sisters went to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and America.  In the last century they went to Latin America.  The sisters were mainly involved in Education and because of praying the Divine Office had a strong tradition in liturgical music.

Further information:
Helen Mary Harmey OP, Congregation Prioress,  Tel: 01-4055570, E:domgen@eircom .net

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hanging in there with Myeloma

I received a heart breaking email last night from a Mother whose son aged 30 has been diagnosed with myeloma. It's a shocking diagnosis to receive at any age but especially aged 30. I was very upset reading the email, imagining what he will have to go through and hoping that he has the physical and mental strength to get through it and to believe that he can win. I was very moved and upset to by the Mother's pain and anguish and I imagined how I would feel if I had to deal with a diagnosis like this in one of my children.

When I was diagnosed with myeloma I was so grateful that it was me who had received the diagnosis and not one of my children!

Recently I had been wondering if I should just move on and leave the myeloma work to others. Other people I know who were involved in myeloma support groups have moved on as they feel they don't need the group anymore. I was wondering should I move off myself and let others deal with the phone calls and emails that I get on a daily and weekly basis.

When I received the email last night, it was a like a sign to me to stick with it - others need to hear from me and about me. They need to know that it is possible to fight myeloma and come out the other side. This mother needs to hear me and see me so that she can have hope that her handsome son can beat it!

The email last night also reminded me of the day I was diagnosed and how much I would have liked to have spoken to someone: someone who had been through it, someone who could show me that it can be done, someone to show me there is life after cancer - someone like me!

So I will stick with it. I will keep taking the calls and receiving the emails and thanks to the Irish Cancer Society, I will now [hopefully] receive proper training so as I have professional standards as well as personal experience to draw on.

So to anyone
- feeling down this morning
- feeling angry about traffic or something else
- feeling annoyed with someone
- moaning about first world problems


Take five minutes, five seconds even to thank God for your health and the health and the love of your family.

Brenda xx

31 January 2012 

A Living Word

A Living Word is the daily thought for the day reflection on the early morning show on RTE Radio 1 with Shay Byrne. The slot is edited and produced by Aidan Matthews in RTE. This week the reflections are based on themes celebrating Catholic Schools Week which is taking place from the 29 Jan - 4 Feb 2012.

There are five different people involved in this weeks A Living Word and I was given Monday morning to prepare a piece for. The brief is a piece of 250 words and a length of no more than two minutes, so it was tricky to fit in all I wanted to say.

Anyway this is the piece I wrote and recorded which was broadcast yesterday morning. Hope you enjoy it.

Brenda Drumm | A Living Word

31 January 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012


As the mock Junior and Leaving cert examinations are currently happening for some and approaching for others I thought I would share this little prayer I found: 


Now that I lay me down to study,
I pray the Lord I won't go nutty.
If I should fail to learn this junk,
I pray the Lord I will not flunk.

But if I do, don't pity me at all;
Just lay my bones down in the study hall.
Tell my teachers I did my best.
Then pile the books upon my chest.

Now I lay me down to rest,
And pray I'll pass tomorrow's test.
If I should die before I wake,
That's one less test I'll have to take.


I found this in a book called Liturgies for Post-Primary Schools published by Veritas and put together by Brendan Quinlivan.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Very Happy New Year of Ordinary Miracles

I meant to write this yesterday but I just could not sit down and focus enough to do it.

Yesterday, Jan 2nd, marked five years since I was admitted to hospital with kidney failure. At the time I was blissfully ignorant that I had a life threatening cancer called Multiple Myeloma, but it wasn't long before I was told on 10.1.2007 - that was the day my life changed forever.

Marking five years is amazing on the one hand, but going over the five year threshold also scares me to death because while I wanted to reach the five year milestone and keep going, I am also aware that the further I move away from my original diagnosis, the closer I may be moving towards a return of my Myeloma.

Sorry here's the sciency bit: Multiple Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Only 2% of people under 40 are diagnosed with it so when I was diagnosed at 38 it was a shock statistically and in every other way imaginable.

There is currently no cure for Myeloma but the aim is to keep people like me alive as long as possible in the hope that someday a cure will be found. I was treated with thalidomide and with oral chemo, followed by the good stuff - the liquid chemo. I had my stem cells harvested and frozen. Then I was given high doses of liquid chemo and then had something called a stem cell transplant.

Another sciency bit here: A stem cell transplant is where they harvest the stem cells from your own bone marrow and donate them back to you to rescue you from the effects of the chemo. The hope is that the stem cells will grow into healthy cells - white cells, red cells etc and repopulate your bone marrow and make you healthy again. [Loads more sciency stuff on]

I have been in remission since September 2007 and I am so lucky to have been given all this time here with my husband and children. There were times during my transplant when I was so ill, I thought I would not get through another day.

The last five years have been the most amazing ones because I have cherished the time and relished the time in a way that I didn't before. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been all sunshine and roses, there have been setbacks. I was very lucky to survive a blood clot in my lung on the first day of my Summer holidays in August 2009, but I have improved since then and in November 2010 I was taken off all treatment. I am injection free, infusion free, tablet free for the first time in 4 years and it has been incredible.

When I was first diagnosed I made a deal with God - I asked him to keep me here so as I could see my little boy start school - Cathal was 2 when I was diagnosed and my daughter Emma was 9. I asked God to let me see her making her Confirmation, starting secondary school, maybe meeting her first love. As the years passed by I started to revise my deals [luckily I put none of them in writing and God this blog doesn't count].

  • Why shouldn't I be here for exams and boyfriends and girlfriends and for graduation from secondary school?
  • Why shouldn't I be here to see Emma walk down the aisle? 
  • Why shouldn't I get to be a grandmother. 
  • Why shouldn't my kids have their Mum as they grow up?

 It's thinking about this that sometimes can be very overwhelming.

But I am a very positive person and I do believe in miracles - it's a miracle that I am here. That is why I want to spend my time doing things that make me smile, making memories with my kids, doing miraculous things and making each day count.

The list of things I have done over the past five years sometimes makes me dizzy but it has been wonderous and I am not sure if I would have done a lot of these BC [Before Cancer]

Sang on stage with Brian Kennedy
Welcomed the Mooney Show into the house for a concert
Climbed Croagh Patrick
Became a Scout Leader and camped for 9 days and nights at a Jamboree
Started my own radio show in my spare time
Spoke on live tv and radio about my illness despite the fact that I had to sit on my hands because I was shaking so much
Published an audio anthology of writing
Kayaked 10km up a river in Germany as part of a scout trip
Camped in all sorts of places and hostelled
Started a young adult creative writing group
Started a dedicated website and awareness week for myeloma
Gone back to work...
Started to write again and this month I am sending out a submission about the book I have written about my cancer journey....
Most recently the #TwitterXmasSingle .........

The list keeps growing and I am making new memories every day. I am very lucky in a way to have been given a second chance, to have been given time out to reflect on the important things in life, to cherish the ordinary everyday miracles that are all around us in our lives, whether we realise it or not!

So as you start a new year remember that your health is the only wealth you will ever need........and do take time to notice and cherish your own everyday miracles....

"Health is a crown, worn by those who are well and seen only by those who are sick".

I hope to hang onto my crown of health for as long as I can.

Happy New Year