Irish Book Awards

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The Cow Book

The Cow Book is the story of a calving season and John Connell records the hypnotic rhythm of the farming day – cleaning the outhouses, milking the herd, tending to sickly lambs. But alongside the routine events, there are the unforeseen moments: when a calf fails to thrive, when a sheep goes missing, when illness breaks out, when depression takes hold.. It is also the story of the cow itself, from its domestication and worship as a God by the Ancient Egyptians to the modern practice of mechanized herds, via the figure of the cowboy, the destruction of the American buffalo, the demise of the aboriginal jackaroos and the consequences of BSE. It is the story of Connell’s life as a farmer, of his relationship with his birthplace of County Longford, with the community around the family farm, with the animals he tends, and with his father.