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Irish Raw Milk Cheeses - Slow Food Presidia

Irish Raw Milk Cheeses


Texts naming and describing the cheeses once made in Ireland’s lush green pastures date back to the 8th century, but the descriptions and names are extremely vague. However, we know that Irish cheesemakers once produced a wide variety of cheeses: Tanag and Grus were hard pressed skim milk cheeses, Faiscre Grotha was a fresh type of pressed curd cheese and Tath was made from sour milk curds. The diversity of the products can also be gauged by the coagulants referred to in old texts: animal rennet, both calf and lamb, was used, but also Irish moss (carraigin) and bog violet (mothan). In the 1970s an association of artisan producers reintroduced cheesemaking on a small scale in rural Ireland and this soon grew to thirty small dairies. Driven by a mixture of idealism and the need to make a living from their farms, this new generation of cheesemakers drew upon skills and knowledge from all over the world. Using the same raw materials that served the ancient cheesemakers of Ireland so well, they began to make a diverse range of new cheeses from local, fresh raw milk. Each cheesemaker developed products that reflected their own personalities, experiences and interests; today these cheeses are not only associated with a particular place but with an individual cheesemaker. Irish specialist cheeses have won international acclaim, but only a handful of the “new traditionalists” still use raw milk in the production of their unique cheeses. The Presidium will celebrate the distinctive merits of these cheeses and, by working to protect them for future enjoyment, continue the revival of this island’s cheesemaking traditions.
Unlike many Presidia that concentrate on one particular product with distinctive properties from a specific geographical area, this project covers many different types of cheeses from across Ireland. The Presidium is made up of ten artisan dairies that work with their own distinctive style and techniques, but share a common commitment to producing a safe, high-quality product using raw milk from their own cows or nearby herds.
In 2005, the first draft of the production specification was written, laying down rules concerning the management of cattle, the source of milk and the cheesemaking process. The specification states that dairy herds should feed on pasture for eight or nine months of the year; that each batch of milk for cheesemaking comes from a maximum of three milkings; and that the distance between a milking parlor and dairy is minimal. The Presidium is represented by a number of cheeses that are considered ‘ambassadors’ for Irish raw cow’s milk cheese; selected on the basis of their taste qualities. Only one cheese from each producer can be a representative at any one time. The purpose of this project is to encourage and support raw cow’s milk cheese producers throughout Ireland and to increase appreciation for this product. It seeks to celebrate the distinctive merits of Irish raw milk cheese, the environment from which it springs, its artisans and its varied styles of production. The objectives are to raise awareness among consumers, retailers and food policy experts of the quality of raw milk cheeses, and to defend the right of small-scale producers to make raw milk cheese in Ireland.

Production area
10 cheesemakers

Breda Maher
Cooleeney Raw Cheese

Frank and Gudrun Shinnick
St Gall

Silke Cropp
Drumlin Cheese

Maja Binder
Dilliskus cheese

Jeffa Gill
Durrus Cheese

Peter Thomas
Bellingham Blue

Lucy Hayes
Mount Callan Farmhouse

David and Mairead Tiernan
Glebe Brethan Cheese

Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith
St Tola Log Raw

Kate Carmody
Beal Raw Farmhouse Cheddar
Presidium coordinators
Kevin Sheridan
tel. +353 469430373

Jeffa Gill
tel. +353 2761100

Colin Sage
tel. +353 214904339
fax +353 214271980


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