Matters of Great Indifference, Volume 2 is out now.
This is the second collection of O’Brien’s weekly musings taken from the pages of the Farming Independent. It contains a selection of pieces published between November 2020 and October 2022 and, according to the author, matters of all sorts are covered. “From the end of the pandemic to the start of a war, from the arrival of a new pup to the departure of a Queen, I have a look at everything and anything” he said.
The pieces are inspired by the life Jim is living and the context in which he is living it. “I draw on my childhood in Kildimo, and other places I have lived including Foynes in West Limerick Rosenallis, Co Laois and, of course, in O’Gonnelloe, Co Clare, where I now live. These are among the deep wells I draw from,” he said.
While the last collection of columns was very much coloured by Jim’s travels around the country, he has since been ‘confined to barracks’ by Covid and other changed circumstances. He describes this new volume as more reflective and the product of what he refers to as a ‘semi-monastic existence’.
But it isn’t all serious, “I find lots to smile and laugh about. The title comes from my grandfather who went to the pub most nights to drink a few pints, play a game of cards and discuss what he called ‘matters of great indifference’.
Jim O’Brien’s weekly column in the Farming Independent can be inspired by anything from a badly hung gate, to a word from a neighbour, a line from a book, the smell of a tractor engine, the bark of a dog or the hum of a milking machine.Living in the west of Ireland, Jim captures the broad sweep of local and national affairs, while keeping an eye on the past and imagining the future. He reflects on his own life and the world we live in with great humour, insight and clarity. In this selection of columns, written for the farming supplement of the Irish Independent between 2017 to 2020, Jim’s writing offers a unique perspective on rural life in a changing Ireland.
‘Jim O’Brien is a wonderful storyteller with a wide experience of life’ – Michael Harding
‘Witty, charming, reflective, caring and wise’ – Mairéad McGuinness