‘I always shop local every Christmas’, says Longford author John Connell

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Longford author John Connell all set to launch The Running Book

John Connell, author of The Cow Book, has recently launched The Running Book

As part of our Shop Local in Longford campaign we have asked a number of local personalities what their plans are for this coming Christmas. It promises to be a very different Christmas this year, but as you can see from the responses it will be no less enjoyable for that.

And as the Christmas season gets underway and starts to gather pace, the importance of shopping and staying local has never been as keenly felt. Let's support our own and #keeplongfordinbusiness

What local gift would you like to find under the tree this year?

I’d love to get a Casey bog oak sculpture. I bought one for my mother a while back and I just really love their stuff.

Where will you be shopping locally this Christmas?

Well, I always shop local every Christmas. I have done this since returning to Ireland five years ago. I normally get two big Christmas hampers from Louis Hetreich for my siblings. Louis does a great hamper. I buy my nieces and nephews and cousins outfits in Spirit kids and if I want babywear I go to Kiddiewear as they have a great selection and then of course books for the readers in my life in Newsround where there is a great selection. I’m also a keen outdoors man and fisher so Denniston’s always have a great selection of camping and fishing gear. For my wife I would have a look at Fabiani and as I’m a farmer an animal might not be out of the question so I might take the cheque book to Granard mart.

What will you be doing differently for Christmas this year?

At the moment Im unsure if we will get to have Christmas dinner with my parents so I’m weighing up the options of ordering a turkey from my local butchers Campbell’s in Colmcille. It would be the start of a new tradition. The other big thing for me is I wont get to do my ‘rounds’ on Christmas eve day. It is a tradition of mine to visit all my aunts and uncles and cousins and bring gifts and ceile with them all over the course of the day. I will miss doing that this year with social distancing as it has become a great tradition for me.

What is your favourite Christmas memory of growing up?

For me, going to the Cathedral on Christmas Eve for confession and then coming home to the warm fire, perhaps a snow has fallen and the sense of wonder and joy that was in that night. At primary school in Killoe we would have our school plays. I remember those nights best when the community came together.

What was the most thoughtful Christmas present you ever received?

A great question. I think it would be tickets to see the Eagles in Wembley stadium in London. My wife got them for me two years ago and it was honestly the best concert I have ever been to.

What's your favourite thing about Longford at Christmas?

Seeing friends home from overseas and the sense that the parish is full of people again. It is a sense of vibrancy and a feeling of new ideas.

What sort of a Christmas are you planning to have this year?

Hopefully one with my family. We had hoped to visit my wife's family in America this Christmas but Covid has put a stop to that. We will opt for a nice quiet Christmas in Longford and enjoy a few days of classic films, nice open fires and a few runs on the quieter roads.

If you had one wish for this Christmas, what would it be?

It would be the same wish as everyone else's this year; the development of a vaccine and a road map out of Covid.

What is the most important thing about Christmas for you?

Family and friends

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

I always go to confession in the Cathedral on Christmas Eve, I have done this since being a child and then visiting family and friends. Catching up with my old school mates who are home for the holidays is something I always enjoy. We go to Begley's pub in Killoe.

What do you like most about Christmas?

Family time

What's your favourite Christmas dish?

I'd be lying if I didn't say Turkey and ham with all the trimmings including my mum's great raisin stuffing.

What's your favourite Christmas movie?

What a tricky one. Maybe its the Great Escape or Home Alone.

What's your favourite Christmas song/tune?

Fairytale of New York. A classic - it never gets old and it's just brilliant.