Monday 24 June 2019

'Money is easy spent and hard-earned'

John Connell
John Connell

The writer and farmer John Connell is the author of the well-known The Cow Book, which was published earlier this year and gives an account of a year on his family farm in Ballinalee, Co Longford.

Connell will be at Bantry Library on Friday, July 20 to read from The Cow Book as part of the West Cork Literary Festival, which runs from July 13 to 20. For more information on the festival, visit

What's the most important lesson about money which your career in writing has taught you?

Never count the money you are owed until it comes in. There can often be a big wait between deals and actually getting paid. So writing has taught me to be a bit more frugal.

What's the toughest thing financially about being a farmer today?

Well that's a huge question - we get less money for cattle nowadays so that is a big issue. The meat factories have a big pull over family beef farms - controlling prices and dictating what they will pay. It's a huge strain on the industry.

What's the most expensive country you ever visited?

I lived in Sydney, Australia for over five years and it is horribly expensive. Average house prices in Sydney are now well into one million dollars. My wife is Australian and works in advertising but even she has expressed how difficult it is to get into the housing market there.

What's your favourite Irish coin?

I had a great liking for the one punt. I remember it from childhood and I suppose it held the prospect of so much. The euro coinage itself is not so aesthetically pleasing - though I do love the single currency for travel within the EU.

Apart from property, what's the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

An engagement ring in Toronto for my first fiancee. Its value could buy you a very nice car.

What was your worst job?

I worked as a labourer in Sydney after my first book came out. I was in a tough bind financially and whilst having ran a production company two years before, I couldn't get work at that moment. I don't mind hard work but that was a pretty low time, as work didn't seem to be happening so it was a sort of defeat of the soul.

What was your biggest financial mistake?

Starting a whiskey importing business in Australia. It started well but ended badly.

What was your best financial killing?

Not a killing as such but getting married to my now wife, who is a financial whizz and who guides me in future decisions.

Are you better off than your parents?

Not yet. My parents are both entrepreneurs and people I look up to in terms of career.

If you won the EuroMillions, what would you do with the money?

I'd invest in some tech startups. I have a number of friends in the development industry and its something I'd like to work in again.

What's the best advice you ever got about money - and who gave it to you?

It's easy spent and hard-earned. My father told me that many years ago.

iTunes or Spotify?

I have both iTunes and Spotify but I spend a great deal of time listening to podcasts - they're a quick and easy way for me to learn about what's happening in the world.

What was the last thing you bought online?

Whey protein. I'm a serious fitness junkie.

Would you buy Irish property now?

The property market is on the up again. I would invest in land over houses. The Dublin market is increasing rapidly. Getting an investment property there would be good before the prices go insane again.

What three things would you not be able to do without if you were tightening your belt?

Coffee, podcasts and gym membership. I just couldn't face life without the gym.

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