My Longford Life: John Connell, author of The Cow Book

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John Connell

Longford author, John Connell

John Connell is the bestselling author of The Cow Book, which is currently making its way around the world following huge success here in Ireland.

What's your idea of a perfect day or perfect weekend in Longford?
Longford is a beautiful county and seeing its scenery is the best thing. I love to go for a run in Derrycasson forest and go for lunch with my wife in The Pikers Lodge on a Sunday.

Who has made the greatest contribution to Longford in your lifetime - and why?
There have been many influential people in the modern history of Longford but Albert Reynolds stands large not only as Taoiseach but for his contribution to the Peace Process, the peace we enjoy today would not have been possible without Albert and John Major’s work. He is sorely missed.

What’s your first Longford memory?
Growing up in Soran and working on the farm. The fields of our farm hold many joyous memories from rafting on the Camlin river to making hay bales in the hot summer sun.

What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
As a Killoe man, I’d be shot if I omitted my parish. Cairn hill is the highest point in the midlands and from here we can see so much of the beautiful midlands. The hill is unchanging; whilst we go about our business, it is our great timekeeper and place of memory.

Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
There have been so many talented people to come out of the county but Padraic Colum has helped shape our understanding of ourselves. She Moved Through the Fair is a song of love and loss and one of my favourites to this day.

What about a local walk - or view?
Derrycasson Forest is where I run and walk but the whole Lough Gowna area is an untouched gem, a great place to fish, relax and take in the beauty of our home.

What do you think gives Longford its unique identity?
Longford is a secret place with secret beauty, but it is its people who give it its unique quality. Longfordians have a great sense of humour and a unique grounding in the earth.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Longford today?
Employment; we need political representation to attract factories and employment opportunities. We have a talented community but many have to leave in order to secure employment opportunities. Everyone that leaves is one less person who could be making Longford a better place.

If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Longford, what would it be?
I’d love to get involved in our tourism and help promote the hidden gem of the Irish heartlands and show the bounty of what we have on offer, from historical links to our wonderful outdoor amenities. We live in a beautiful place with wonderful people where the soul of the old Ireland hasn’t been driven out yet. We must treasure that.

Read also: Longford Lives: John Connell on farming, faith and his future