This original and educational contest entry is all about cheese in Ireland. Who knew this much about Irish cheese? Props to Lindsey aka “FluffnGreen” for her contest submission which was universally appreciated by everyone at Authentic Ireland.
Cheese. A word so simplistic to say but with a meaning so deep and a heritage so rich, one could only gain a true perspective were they to visit a place so iconic in the history of such a staple food. Ireland has long been known for their dairy stuffs. Cows graze in pristine pastures surrounded by crisp, clean air. A quick internet search will bring up near 60 cheesemakers in Ireland both large production and smaller family affairs. A trip to Ireland to sample the renowned and iconic goat, sheeps and cows’ milk cheeses would be an utter dream come true. On a long stretch of picturesque coastline in the south west lies East Cork, Ireland.
Home to the world’s second largest natural harbour it is no surprise that it has been one of Ireland’s major employment hubs since the early 1900s. Here one of Ireland’s most popular creameries has taken root. Carrigaline creamery, run by locals Ann and Pat O’Farrell, has been churning out artisan cheese since 1987. Using only locally sourced and quality dairy their cheese are robust and flavorful. The buttery texture of their cows milk cheeses’ are said to be some of the best in the country.
Further south lies the rural country village of Knockanore. According to the last census in 2006, merely 890 people were dispersed throughout the local area. Two of these citizens, Eamonn and Patricia Lonergan, are behind the Knockanore Irish Farmhouse Cheese House. Established in the 1980’s, Knockanore cheeses are carefully manufactured from full cream cow’s milk; resulting in what have been called some of the finest cheese wheels in the world. Using a traditional smoking kiln, some of the wheels are then smoked with local oak wood, adding deep and intricate layers of umami flavor that must be tasted to be believed.
Wicklow Blue is a Brie-style blue cheese made using pasteurized cow’s milk in the gentle, rolling hills south of Dublin. Locals’ John & Bernie Hempenstall established their creamery Wicklow Farmhouse Cheeses, more recently in 2005. Buttery, yellow, creamy and fragrant the blue moulds are very subtle not overpowering to even a sensitive palate. According to their website, Wicklow Farmhouse cows graze on plush green grasses caressed by gentle sea breezes. This gives the milk an unmistakable, unique freshness and flavor. The family work seven days a week to turn their milk into cheese. With that kind of description it is no wonder they produce an award winning product.
By all looks and appearances Ireland is a passionate place. Cheese making seems to be no exception. To be able to experience such a deep appreciation, a fiery passion so strong that the resulting product is a globally renowned, awarding winning cheese- it would be an absolute dream come true. A once in a lifetime experience. I can only imagine the passion, creativity, revival, spirit and passion that would transfer through Ireland’s rich soil into my feet, inspiring my heart and motivating my brain. When I think of Ireland, I think of cheese. Quality, passion, depth and yea- taste, too.
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