A Question of Taste: Author, film producer and farmer, John Connell

A Question of Taste: Author, film producer and farmer, John Connell

John Connell is from Longford and has lived for many years in Australia and Canada. An author, film producer, investigative journalist and farmer, he is best known for his bestseller The Cow Book. John will give a writing workshop as part of WaterfordHarvest Festival on Sunday. This is one of over 70 events taking place across the festival, which runs from Sept 6– 8. See waterfordharvestfestival.ie

Best recent book you’ve read:

I recently re-read Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I am a keen runner and it is a wonderful light read, taking me away from my busy farm work.

Best recent film you’ve seen:

Blinded by the Light is an amazing coming-of-age drama from the director of Bend It Like Beckham, Gurinder Chadha.

Best recent gig:

My wife and I recently saw the Eagles in concert and it was an amazing night — one I won’t forget.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

I have been listening to a young singer called Steve Lacy after my wife put me onto him. He is from California and is just wonderful.

First ever piece of music or film that really moved you:

Kes directed by Ken Loach is still up there as one of the best films that I have ever seen, in particular about its focus on nature and man’s relationship to it.

Best book about nature or animals you’ve read:

At the moment I would have to say that John Berger’s About Looking is a wonderful book and contains an essay that shaped my reading life on how animals and man look at each other. A must-read for anyone interested in the genre.

What was the most satisfying thing about the success of the Cow Book?

As an emigrant, I had success in other fields but returning home on a gamble to become a writer was a big thing. It took three years, during which time I lived at home. For my parents to see that pay off was worth it all.

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Radio listening and/or podcasts:

I am a big fan of the radio and podcasts. My favourite podcast is from ABC in Australia called conversations. Each weekday an ordinary person is interviewed about their life. It is the most amazing show and contains so many gems. Whilst on a book tour in Australia recently it was a dream come true to be a guest myself. I also love Fresh Air on NPR.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when,and why?

I would go back to see my friend Christy Moore play with Planxty in their heyday.

You are curating your dream book festival – which three authors are on the bill (living or dead)?

John Berger, Edna O’Brien andRichard Flanagan.

Do you have any interesting ancestors or family?

My biggest hero would be the stage and screen actress Siobhan McKenna, who is my cousin. It was from her side of the family that the writing came in. She was an inspiring woman and every time I am in the Abbey Theatre I visit her portrait.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve:

The Beef Plan are doing amazing work for Ireland’s farmers and are battling huge juggernauts in the Irish meat factories and supermarkets chains who are strangling small, family-run beef farms. The work they have done needs to be celebrated and supported. Family farming is not the enemy of climate change but a way for this country to protect itself and its environment for future generations.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?

I would ban the manufacture and sale of single-use plastics where possible. A plastic-free society is nearly possible so let’s make that final leap.

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