Write side... with farmer and writer John Connelll
Farmer and writer John Connell on his 'Cow Book', dreaming up ideas on the tractor, and his Brian Friel tattoo.
How did you become a farmer?
I grew up on our family farm in Longford. I always liked farming, but life took me in another direction - I became an investigative journalist and film producer in Australia.
But then you went back to your roots?
I packed in journalism, started writing books, and came home. In exchange for living at home, I helped out on the farm. It reignited the passion for farming. My agent said: "You're working on a farm - why not write about that?"
How did you react to that?
I thought, 'who would be interested in cows and farming?' It turns out that everybody is. I wrote the first chapter about a calf being born - and I thought that there really is something in this.
So what is your farming and writing routine?
At the moment, I am writing a play. The ideas come to me on the tractor, and I have a pen and paper with me, and write them down. After a long day making hay, I sit down at home and write down all my ideas.
What books would you take to a desert island?
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca, Amongst Women by John McGahern, and Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien. I love Brian Friel's play Philadelphia, Here I Come. I have a tattoo of his line: "It's all over.. It's all about to begin."
Is farming tough these days?
The economics of making a living can be hard. I like country life, however. Last night we had a barbecue, and at nine o'clock I went to the local lake to fish - and I went for a swim.
Who encouraged you to write?
My father is a wonderful storyteller. So I really got it from him. I had some wonderful teachers, such as my principal in primary school, Master Harte. My mentor is the Australian writer, David Malouf. He guided me through - from when I wrote my first short story.