A Guide to Irish Farmhouse Cheese Makers

By: Genevieve Mc Carthy / Last updated: January 5, 2024

Ireland is experiencing an artisan cheese Renaissance, and there has never been a better time to enjoy the wide range of super high-quality cheeses on offer. Renowned for its high-quality dairy, pristine grazing lands, and clean air, Ireland is a natural destination for top-notch cheesemaking. International gourmets have long appreciated producers like Gubbeen, Cashel Blue, and Durrus. In recent years, countless up-and-coming farmhouse cheesemakers have created a foodie stir, such as Dingle Peninsula Cheese, Knockdrinna, and Croghan, to name a few. Here is a short list of some of the finest Irish Cheese Producers, operations both large and boutique

irish farmhouse cheese

Abbey Cheese – Produces organic sheep cheeses in the Midlands, near Portlaoise. Pay Hyland set up Abbey Cheese in 1991, and it is best known for its creamy brie and feta-style (St Canice) cheeses.

Aran Goats Cheese – is an eco-conscious producer that offers a delightful range of cheeses, including a soft cheese with optional Dillisk (a locally harvested seaweed), Gouda infused with Dillisk or sea lettuce, a medium-hard cheese resembling Brie, and a Feta-like Summer Cheese. Their mixed herd of Saanen and Nubian goats provides an ideal butterfat-to-milk volume ratio for their Gouda, aged for at least six weeks. The dedicated staff meticulously packages these artisanal cheeses, ready for market.

Website: www.arangoatcheese.com

Ardagh Castle Cheese – Ardagh Castle is an authentic Irish cheese producer in Baltimore County, Cork, run by Gwynfor and Christine Owen. Initially set up by Judy Wotton, the Owens took over in 2014, preserving traditional cheese-making methods. Specializing in three varieties of artisanal farmhouse cheese, they craft each batch by hand using raw milk from their Anglo-Nubian goats. The cheese can be found at local farmer’s markets.

Ardrahan – from Kanturk, in County Cork, this farm makes semi-soft cow’s milk cheese in plain and oat-smoked forms.

Ardsallagh Goat’s cheese– From Carrigtwohill, near Cork city, this family-run cheese maker specializes in goat’s cheese (soft and hard) and yogurt made with milk from their goat herd; they sell the goat’s milk. In 2011, they received Gold in “The Irish Cheese Awards, 2011”

Website: ardsallagh.ie

Ballylisk of Armagh – their flagship cheese, the Triple Rose, exemplifies artisanal excellence. This circular, white mold cheese is crafted from a single herd’s pasteurized cow’s milk, enriched with cream for a full, flavorful, and rich experience. A salty, lemony undertone masterfully offsets its opulence. Ballylisk is also experimenting with new varieties, including a blue version of the Triple Cream, a cider-washed cheese, and a soft creamy Brie-style.

Website: www.ballyliskofarmagh.com

Bandon Vale– Also from Cork, this is a commercial cheese producer making a range that includes Vintage (mature nutty cheese), Murragh (Irish cheddar), and Glandór (mellow Red Leicester).

Website: andonvale.ie

Baylough – is a hard-pressed and waxed aged cheese made with milk from a herd of Friesians and Red and White Dutch cows. They make oak-smoked and plain flavors, as well as fresh garlic.

Beal Organic Cheese – The organic dairy farm of Beal Lodge is located in County Kerry, and they make organic Farmhouse Cheeses and yogurts. It is one of about 25 organic dairies in Ireland. They have a pedigree herd of Holstein cows producing two kinds of cheese- Wensleydale-style Beal cheese and cheddar-style cheese.

Website: beal.ie

Bellingham Blue Cheese– is a soft blue cheese made with raw cow’s milk at the Glyde Farm in Castlebellingham, County Louth.

Website: bellingham.ie

Blarney– Made by Kerrygold, Ireland’s most famous butter producer, Blarney cheese (named after the famous Castle in County Cork) is a mild, semi-hard cheese made from cows’ milk. Comes in a low-fat version.

Website: www.kerrygoldusa.com

Bluebell Falls – Located in Charleville, Co Cork, and owned by the O’Sullivan family, it produces organic handmade goat cheese with a herd of over 150. Cheeses include Orion, a semi-hard, and Cygnus Pepper, a cheese flavored with garlic, herbs, and black pepper.

Website:bluebellfalls.com

Blue Rathgore– is a complete vegetarian blue cheese made from goat’s milk in Northern Ireland, County Antrim (a beautiful region where you will find Dunluce Castle and the spectacular Giant´s Causeway).

Boilie– These much-loved little fresh cheese curds are hand-rolled and come in glass jars filled with oil and herbs. They can be used in salads or spread on Irish soda bread, which is delicious. Made at the Ryefield Farm in Bailieboro, Co. Cavan.

Burren Gold– This cheese is made in the unique Burren region in County Clare. Friesian cows graze on wild grass and herbs in the fertile valleys between the rugged limestone hills, producing milk that comprises this Gouda-style cheese. The cow’s milk is unpasteurized and a farmhouse cheese as such. The cheeses are also flavored with Nettles and garlic, Fenugreek seed, Black pepper, Cumin, and oak smoked.

Cahills Cheeses– 3rd generation, family-owned, artisanal cheesemakers in County Limerick. They are known for their Irish Whiskey Cheese (vintage cheddar) made with Kilbeggan Whiskey. The range of cheese includes Cahill’s Kilbeggen Irish Whiskey, Ardagh Chalice Wine Cheese, and Ballyporeen Cheese with Irish Herbs.

Website: www.cahillscheese.ie

Carlow Farmhouse Cheeses – These cre Edam-style cheeses are made with raw milk from a single dairy herd. They come in plain and flavored (Sundried Tomato, Basil garlic, Nettles and dried Onions, Black Pepper, Chili, and Cumin) styles.

Website: www.carlowfarmhousecheese.com

Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese – Another very popular cheese in Ireland, Carrigaline has a very buttery texture. It is an artisan cow’s milk semi-soft cheese made by Ann and Pat O’Farrell in County Cork (Carrigaline) at the “Rock” (under the shadow of the castle in ruins). Excellent natural cheese, a “must buy” while in Ireland.

Website: www.carrigalinecheese.com

Carrigbryne Farmhouse Cheese – see “St Killian.” They also make Irish Brie & St.Brendan Brie.

Carrowholly Cheese– a hard, Gouda-style cheese, hails from the picturesque shores of Clew Bay along Ireland’s Atlantic coastline. Aged for six to nine months, this cheese boasts a firm texture, a darker-colored paste, and a rich, complex flavor profile, often featuring crunchy casein crystals in older varieties. The cheese is crafted from unpasteurized cow’s milk and encased in a russet-colored wax. Carrowholly also offers an array of flavors, including nettle, garlic & chive, and pepper, catering to diverse palates. This artisanal cheese has earned acclaim, securing the silver medal at the World Cheese Awards in 2008.

Cashel Blue– Blue Roquefort style cheese made in Tipperary by the Grubb family; this is probably Ireland’s most famous cheese and is well known internationally. Used in all of Ireland’s top restaurants and featured in numerous cookbooks.

Website: www.cashelblue.com

Clonmore Goats Cheese– is a distinctive hard goat´s cheese made by Tom and Lena Biggane in Charleville, Country Cork (a relatively new company). Adored by Irish cheese fanatics, Clonmore is gaining international attention quickly.

Coolea Farmhouse Cheese– is a Gouda-style cheese made with aged cow’s milk in Coolea, in the scenic hills bordering Cork and Kerry counties. Founded by a Dutch cheesemaker and now run by her son, Coolea is one of Ireland’s classic cheeses.

Website: www.cooleacheese.com

Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese – Camembert-like cheese made from unpasteurized cows’ milk in Moyne, County Tipperary. Brands include Cooleeney, Gort na Mona, Maighrean, Dunbarra Garlic & Dill, Dunbarra natural, and Dunbarra Pepper- Camembert-like cheese made from unpasteurized cows’ milk in Moyne, County Tipperary by the Maher family. Brands include Cooleeney, Gort na Mona, Maighrean, Dunbarra Garlic & Dill, Dunbarra Natural, and Dunbarra Pepper.

Website: www.cooleeney.com

Corleggy Farmhouse Cheese– The farm is located on the bank of the River Erne, between Cavan and Fermanagh counties. Quivy and Corleggy are their goat´s cheeses, and the cow´s milk cheeses include Drumlin Traditional, Garlic, Red Pepper, Cumin, Smoked, and Green Peppercorn.

Website: corleggycheeses.ie

Cratloe Hills Cheese– Sean & Deirdre Fitzgerald make fantastic sheep’s cheese at this farm in County Clare, halfway between Shannon and Limerick. They make two kinds of cheese- mild (nutty and semi-hard) and mature (hard and drier), with 100% sheep’s milk.

Website: cratloecheese.com

Croghan– Soft and hard raw goat’s milk cheese made in Blackwater, County Wexford, overlooking the Irish Sea.

Crozier Blue – Made in Tipperary County by the Grubb family (Cashel Blue), this is an artisanal, semi-soft blue cheese made from sheep’s milk.

Derreenaclaurig Farmhouse Cheese – is an authentic artisan cheese made by Harry van der Zanden in Sneem’s dramatically atmospheric Kerry village. The tiny production is made with milk from his own Jersey cow herd. The range of small-production cheeses includes plain, aged, cumin-flavored, and garlic-flavored- almost all are sold in local farmers’ markets and restaurants.

Derrymore Cheese – Farmhouse cheese made in Claremorris County, Mayo.

Dingle Peninsula Cheese – is a terrific cheese from a beautiful corner of Ireland (made in Kilcummin Beg, Castlegregory, in County Kerry). It is unique because the raw cow’s milk cheese is flavored with seaweed! Owners Maja Binder and Olivier Beaujouan are well-known and well-loved personalities in Ireland’s foodie scene, and their cheeses are very recommended.

Dubliner – Ireland’s most widely sold cheddar, ironically not made in Dublin at all, but in Ballineen (West Cork) by Carbery Natural Cheese. The cheese is matured for 12 months and has a rather sweet flavor (as opposed to a sharp cheddar).

Durrus Farmhouse Cheese – this award-winning cheese is made in a stunning corner of West Cork, near the hamlet of Durrus and the super Good Things Café. Owner Jeffa Gill was one of the artisan cheese pioneers of Ireland, along with Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen, and has been making fabulous cheese since the late ’70s, way before it was in fashion. Durrus is round, semi-soft, made with cow´s milk, then aged.

Website: www.durruscheese.com

Fermoy Natural Cheese – Since 1996, Frank and Gudrun Shinnick have been crafting diverse cheeses on their farm in the Blackwater River valley near Fermoy, using milk from their pedigree Holstein Friesians and traditional rennet. Their flagship products include St Gall, a semi-firm cheese that sharpens with age; St Brigid, known for its mild, buttery taste; Cais Dubh, a smooth, tangy black waxed cheese; and Ballyhooly Blue, a creamy blue cheese. Their cheeses are sold at specialty outlets, like The Pig’s Back in the English Market in Cork City.

Gleann Gabhra – Is an award-winning artisan Irish cheese producer owned by Dominic and Fionnuala Gryson. The farm is located near the historic Hill of Tara in Macetown County Meath. Gleann Gabhra produces a mild white-colored goat’s cheddar, which won Gold at the 2010 British Cheese Awards.

Glyde Farm Cheese – The Thomas family has been producing Bellingham Blue cheese since 2000 near Castlebellingham, Co Louth. This is a fully flavored blue cheese from raw milk from their close Friesian herd. Their cheeses have won many awards, including Ireland’s Supreme Cheese and the Best Blue Cheese in the British Cheese Award.

Website: bellingham.ie

Gubbeen – Mythical cheese producer (as well as charcuterie from their smokehouse) Giana and Tom Ferguson are true culinary pioneers in Ireland. Their pretty farm is located in West Cork just outside the picturesque hamlet of Schull, and they make both smoked and unsmoked artisan cheese with cows’ milk from their herd. Don’t leave Ireland without bringing Gubbeen with you! Their products are 100% top-class.

Website: gubbeen.com

Hegarty’s Cheddar– Dan and John Hegarty’s famous cheddar is made with their own Freisan herd’s milk in Whitechurch, Co. Cork. Excellent.

Website: hegartycheese.ie

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese– This gouda-style cheese is made by Marion Roeleweld (who is also a traveling cheese consultant for brands like Mossfield Organic Gouda) at the Killeen Millhouse in Ballyshrule (County Galway in Connemara). They make goats, plain cow’s milk, and herb and garlic-flavored cheese.

Website: killeenfarmhousecheese.wordpress.com

Killorglin Cheese – Originally from Holand, Wilma Silvius makes a Gouda-style cheese on her farm in Kilorgan, Co Keery. She uses milk produced from Holstein cows on her husband’s farm. Wilma likes to flavor her cheeses with cloves, fenugreek, seaweed, or garlic and ages them for a min of 6 weeks.

Website: facebook.com

Knockalara – is an award-winning feta-style cheese made in County Waterford near Cappoquin by Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz. The range includes Dromana Natural, Pepper, Sesame, and Fine Herbs, then the Waterford Feta and Knockalara Sheep’s cheese (also packed in olive oil).

Website: facebook.com

Knockanore – Eamonn and Patricia Lonergan have made this award-winning cow’s milk cheese in Ballyneety, County Waterford, for over 20 years. Their cheeses are adored by connoisseurs throughout the Emerald Isle and come in many styles- Plain, Garlic and herbs, Garlic and chive, Red, Black pepper and chive, and Oak smoked.

Website: knockanorecheese.com

Knockatee Cheese – Peter Ireson moved to Co. Kerry from the UK in the mid-1990s. He produces four styles of cedar cheeses bound in cloth and sealed with butter at the Knockatee farmhouse. His cheeses are aged for at least ten months, making some of the most sought-after Irish cheddars.

Knockdrinna – is a boutique cheese producer in Stoneyford, County Kilkenny, making a wide variety of cheeses from cow, goat, and sheep milk. That includes Knockdrinna Gold Goats Cheese, Knockdrinna Meadow Sheep’s Cheese, Lavistown Cheese (which they have taken over; this is a long-established Irish farmhouse cheese), Knockdrinna Snow, Knockdrinna Fresh Pesto with Goats Cheese, Knockdrinna Fresh Goat Log, Knockdinna Goats Greek style soft goat´s cheese.

Website: www.knockdrinna.com

Lavistown Cheese – see Knockdrinna

Macroom Cheese – In 2009, Johnny & Geraldine Lynch imported 31 buffaloes from Italy. They are the first producers of buffalo mozzarella in Ireland. They have grown the herd now to over 75, and the restaurants and eateries in Ireland seek their cheeses. They produce Buffalo Mozzarella, Greek-style feta cheese, and Haloumi.

Website: macroombuffalocheese.com

Milleens– A stunning Irish farmhouse cheese (cows milk), made in the beautiful Beara Peninsula, West Cork.

Website: www.milleenscheese.com

Mine-Gabhar– Organic cheese made by Luc and Anne Van Kampen. They maintain 70 goats in County Wexford, producing milk for his natural rind cheese, Mine Gabhar, from February to November. The Van Kampens are self-taught, creating cheese using a French recipe adaptation; the process involves mixing warm and chilled goat’s milk with homemade starter, vegetarian rennet, and specific molds.

Mount Callan– This cheese company was founded by Michael and Lucy Hayes in 2000 in County Clare. The aged cheeses are made with cow’s milk from their herd of Montbelliard cows and are produced in summer via a traditional cheddar method.

Oisin Farmhouse Cheese– Organic goat’s milk cheeses made at a farm run by Rochus & Rose van der Vaard in County Limerick.

Old McDonnell’s Farm – Located in the beautiful Glen of the Downs in Wicklow, this farm makes all kinds of products, including goat’s milk cheeses.

Website: www.oldmacdonnellsfarm.ie

Orla – Made at the Manch Estate in Ballineen, County Cork, this cheese is organic, unpasteurized, and semi-hard made with sheep’s cheese. They also make ricotta.

St Tola Goat’s Cheese– from County Clare, these are both hard and soft goat’s cheese following the French tradition. It is very popular and used in many top Irish restaurants.

Website: www.st-tola.ie

St Killian– this Camembert style cheese is made by the Carrigbyrne Farmhouse in County Wexford with raw cow milk and vegetarian rennet.

Wicklow Blue– John & Bernie Hempenstall make this delicate blue brie in the gentle countryside of County Wicklow.

Website: wicklowfarmhousecheese.ie

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Genevieve Mc Carthy

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5 thoughts on “A Guide to Irish Farmhouse Cheese Makers

Colm Brosnansays:

March 15, 2021 at 6:43 pm

I completed a cheese making course for beginners in NZ. I have 25-30 litres of Fresian milk daily, a small tank, 2 small cold rooms and hoping to make cheese as a hobby. Where can I buy all the equipment necessary. Would be interested in any advice or encouragement you can give. I live in Cork. Could you put me in touch with anyone who might be of help please. Regards Colm

John Daviessays:

February 8, 2021 at 10:38 pm

I have a homemade deli shop thinking about trying to sell a range of homemade local cheeses

Shilpa Pitalesays:

March 14, 2020 at 9:06 pm

can you suggest cheese making learning classes in carlow

Matthew O'Callaghansays:

April 2, 2018 at 3:38 am

This list is unfortunately out of date, a few of the cheeses listed here are not made anymore eg Desmond, Orla, Mine-Gabhar, Fermoy etc

catherine valentinesays:

December 17, 2017 at 2:34 am

How can we determine if any of the cheeses are from other than Holstein cows. There were several Irish breeds of cattle; are there any cheese manufacturers that use cattle other than Holstein cows?

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