The Ikon Maker and Granola

“His mind was full of skeletons. The skeletons of an Ireland mangled, lost, an Ireland where cabbage seed grew in neglected gardens.” – The Ikon Maker

True to my word, I read more of Desmond Hogan’s work. The Ikon Maker was Hogan’s first published novel, dating from 1976. It narrates the happenings that befall a young man, Diarmaid O’Hallrahan, and the relationship he has with his mother, Susan.

While a teenager, Diarmaid’s friend, Derek, committed suicide. Diarmaid started creating ikons, collages composed of strips of fabric, feathers and other materials. These  marked the progress of his troubled upbringing.

Shortly prior to his eighteenth birthday, Diarmaid returns to London after a visit to his mother in Ballinasloe, County Galway. She decides to follow him, fearing that she has lost the boy her son used to be. She meets Diarmaid’s friends and lovers, always narrowly missing and encounter with the man himself.

The Ikon Maker is concerned with the convoluted nature of relationships and the fact that people inevitably change over the course of a lifetime. Sexuality, migration, and generational differences are also prominent tropes. Hogan, as ever, is eloquent and insightful. His prose has a lyric sheen that justifies his declaration in the Epilogue of the book in which he states that song was nearly always on his mind while he was writing The Ikon Maker.

I have returned to the continental European land mass that will always be home for a while now after having spent the best part of five years on islands. The first thing I decided to make was granola because I love breakfast. This version is adapted from Yossy Arefi’s recipe. Served with unsweetened yoghurt and a sprinkling of cinnamon, the soft heat from the spices in it is warming on these winter mornings of pale sunlight.



180g oats

20g shredded coconut

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

zest of 1 orange

3 tbsp olive oil

85g honey and maple syrup

75g chopped almonds

50g pumpkin seeds

25g chia seeds

50g dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 160°C. Mix the oats, coconut, zest, salt and spices in a bowl. In a separate receptacle combine the wet ingredients. Merge the two and disperse on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Leave in the oven for 15 minutes, stir and add the chopped almonds. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or so to ensure all of the oats are a golden brown. When the time has elapsed, remove the tray from the oven and let the granola cool completely before adding the seeds and fruit. Store in an airtight container.


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