Falling for a Farmer: A reminder of the pull of the land the power of love
This lovely, simple book is perfect for the long winter nights to come
Maura McElhone is a regular columnist for RTÉ Radio 1’s farming programme Countrywide and has guest articles with the Irish Farmers’ Journal
Falling for a Farmer
Farming it seems, is having a moment in popular culture, from James Rebanks’s The Shepherd’s Life to television programmes and documentaries extolling the benefits of rural life. Maura McElhone’s Falling for a Farmer fits neatly into this world and seems almost ready-set to remind us not just of the pull of the land but the power of love.
McElhone, a writer and blogger, spent the best part of a decade as an emigrant living in California but as she says herself in the book’s opening chapters, longed all those years for home. And so in her own words , she “unemigrated” and returned to her native Derry. The return home after years abroad is by now a well-known story in memoirs and popular fiction in Irish literature, perhaps it will be one of the defining memories of the recessionary times that we appear to be leaving behind.
Decamping soon after to Dublin, as a single 30-year-old yearning for a fresh start, she begins to work as a social media manager for a tech start-up. It’s in the capital that she meets Jack a farmer/banker. A strong silent type, romance soon blossoms and the pair meet one another’s families. McElhone soon learns that Jack’s bond to his native Kildare and farm are strong and that the land will always come first as he is the eldest son and heir to the family farm.
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Soon the author finds herself witnessing and then becoming a part of the realities of farming life. From her first experience with Jack and his brothers delivering a calf, the writer begins to learn that it is not all cuteness and daisies as she enquires about naming a newborn calf only to be told they are never named because a name can breed attachment and animals are never around that long.
Change comes quickly to the new found lovers’ lives when Jack decides to resign from his office job and become a full-time farmer which the author supports. However, the reality of their new life soon dawns and things are never the same.
Falling For a Farmer is a book written by an outsider who wishes to become an insider. Few enter the rural world this way and the author is to be commended for her efforts and can-do attitude. She is quick to learn the meanings of life and death, that things can go wrong and that life is never dull on a farm.
The author doesn’t shy away from the harder aspects of farming and her writing on the euthanasia of a continually ill calf are real and apt.
A regular columnist for RTÉ Radio 1’s farming programme Countrywide and guest articles with the Irish Farmers’ Journal have earned the blogger come author a devoted fanbase.
A lovely, simple book it will provide the right accompaniment for the long winter nights to come for those who choose to read it.
John Connell is the author of the international bestseller ‘The Cow Book’. A journalist and film producer he lives and farms in his native Longford.