A Laois man from a farming background has just written and published his debut children’s book ‘Elephant on the Farm’ which he compiled during lockdown.

“I grew up on a mixed farm – tillage, beef and sheep – in Killeen, south Laois, just near the border with Kildare and Carlow, so being from a farming background, I wanted the story to reflect some of the scenes that can be seen on a farm,” said Brendan McDonald.

“I went to University of Limerick (UL) and did law, qualifying as a solicitor in Kildare before going in-house and joining IDA Ireland in 2012. In 2017, I became regional business development manager in the south-east and I got the opportunity to move back to Carlow just 15 minutes from the home farm. As my mother Kathleen constantly reminds people: ‘He was afraid of physical work so he went off to study!’

“My brother Paul now runs the farm but my dad JJ and mam Kathleen still help out, ably assisted by my nieces and nephews who all love visiting the farm as much as they can,” said Brendan.

“l always had an affinity for telling stories and over the last few years I had been telling stories and indeed reading bedtime stories to my nieces and nephews so I said to myself: ‘One day I’ll give this a go – how hard could it be?'”

‘2 tractors, a trailer, a big yellow bailer’

However, it was much more difficult than he anticipated.

“As I went for a rhyming style, every single sentence and page had to flow correctly in line with the illustrations so that the reader is hooked from page one, and more importantly that they will want to read it again and again. This is so important for mammies and daddies also as they are ultimately the ones that have to read it every night.

The natural setting for my debut children’s book was on our own farm. Some of the lines resonate directly. We are a Massey Ferguson house so there is a line in the book: ‘Two tractors, a trailer, a big yellow bailer’ which was directly from a scene on the farm one day last summer.

“I haven’t really seen a huge amount of farm stories so I wanted to bring one to life in a positive manner,” Brendan said.

“The story is of friendship, diversity and inclusion where Edward the Elephant meets Olive the Owl and his journey from being totally different to being accepted as one of the farm gang. We are all different and the story really resonates with that message,” Brendan said.

To convey all this, Brendan needed an illustrator and he paid tribute to Martin Beckett, based in Donegal, who provided the illustrations. “Martin’s professionalism and skill in bringing the farm scenes to life was invaluable and the beautiful illustrations really help the story resonate with young readers,” he said.

Crumlin Children’s Hospital

“20% of net profits from the sale of ‘Elephant on the Farm’ will be donated to Crumlin Children’s Hospital where my godson spent a short time a couple of years ago. All is good thankfully and as an acknowledgement of the fantastic work that they do on behalf of all Irish children, I wanted to make a donation from sales of the book,” Brendan said.

‘Elephant on the Farm’ is printed in Kilkenny and can be purchased from Brendan’s own Bed Time Story Publishing website for €9.95.

Meanwhile, Brendan is already working on his next book which he hopes to publish next year.