An honest and compelling account of embracing farm life, ‘The Cow Book’ by John Connell has become one of the most remarkable memoirs to come out of Ireland this year. As part the Burren Winterage Weekend, John Connell will read from his book tomorrow Friday October 26 between 3 and 4 pm at Gort Library. This event is supported by the Healthy Ireland at your Library initiative.
Mr Connell, a 29-year-old returned emigrant to Longford, explained the origin of his book, “Although farming had been in my family for generations, I had never intended to follow in my father’s footsteps. Until one winter, unexpected circumstances led me back on the family farm where I found myself learning the ways of the farmer and the way of the cows.”
In his book, Mr Connell records the hypnotic rhythm of the farming day - cleaning the outhouses, milking the herd, tending to sickly lambs, helping the cows give birth. But alongside the routine events, there are the unforeseen moments when things go wrong - when a calf fails to thrive, when a sheep goes missing, when illness breaks out, when depression takes hold, when an argument erupts and things are said that cannot be unsaid.
“The Cow Book”, John Connell said,“ is the story of a calving season. It is also the story of the cow itself, from its domestication and worship as a God by the Ancient Egyptians to the modern practice of mechanized herds, via the figure of the cowboy, the destruction of the American buffalo, the demise of the aboriginal jackaroos and the consequences of BSE.” He continued, “Above all, it is the story of my life as a farmer, and of my relationship with my birthplace of county Longford, with the community around the family farm, with the animals I tend and with my father.”
The Irish Times has called The Cow Book ‘A meditation on the real meaning of home and place’.
The Guardian has described John Connell’s book as ‘A moving memoir (that ) tracks his life on the family farm...and charts humanity’s long relationship with cattle’.
“As communities living in and around the Burren come together this October bank holiday to celebrate the value of farming to our landscape and heritage”, said Annalisa Murphy, Coordinator at the Burrenbeo Trust, “we are delighted to have John Connell read from his book that will no doubt resonate with all of us, farmers and non-farmers alike”.
This Farm Book Event has free admission and is one of the many events organised for the Burren Winterage Weekend taking place from October 25-28.