Four Galway cheesemakers honoured at Irish Cheese Awards 

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Killeen Farmhouse Cheese from Drimna West

Four farmhouse cheese producers from Galway have been presented with awards at the Irish Cheese Awards 2021 at a ceremony this week.

Organised by Cáis, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, the bi-annual event celebrates the thriving farmhouse cheese sector in Ireland.

The all-island event received entries from over 50 companies which entered a total of 220 cheeses – the largest number of entries in the awards’ nine year history.

Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine Charlie McConalogue gave the keynote address at the ceremony on Tuesday night, saying that the awards showcase ‘all that is great and good’ in the sector.

Award winning cheeses

From Galway, a total of eight awards were presented to Irish Farmhouse Cheese producers, recognising their stellar contributions to the sector.

Aran Islands Goats Cheese from Inis Mór received the Bronze ‘Fresh/ Soft Cheese: Goat Milk’ award for its Aran Island Soft Goats Pearls and the Bronze ‘Soft Cheese Flavour Added’ award for its Aran Island Dillisk Goat’s Pearls.

Aran Islands Goats Cheese from Inis Mór

Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese from Kylemore received the Silver ‘Hard/ Semi Hard Cheese Under 6 Months: Cow Milk’ award for its Kylemore Claddagh Cheese.

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Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese

Killeen Farmhouse Cheese from Drimna West received the Gold and Silver awards in theHard/ Semi Hard Cheese Under 6 Months: Goat, Sheep, Buffalo’ category for its Killeen Goat Mature and Killeen Goat and Gold and Silver awards in the ‘Retailer Class: Semi-hard/ Hard’ category for its collaboration with Dunnes Stores Simply Better range.

Galway Cheese from Dunmore received the Silver ‘New Cheese: All Types’ for its Galway Sinan.

The cheeses entered were judged by a team of 15 experts with products assessed under the following criteria: aroma, flavour, body and texture, and overall appearance. 

Judging for the competition is ‘blind’ with all packaging and labelling removed allowing each cheese to speak for itself.  

Minister Charlie McConalogue offered his congratulations to all those who were nominated as well as those who received awards.

“An astonishing 220 cheeses, from mature to mild, which have been entered by 50 cheesemakers, have been judged which shows just the depth and breadth of talent in the sector,” said the Minister.

“The wide range of cheese that is produced in Ireland is incredibly important in terms of increasing added value to our cheese sector.”

He said that the quality of Irish milk produced from sustainable grass-based production system contributes enormously to the success of the Irish cheese industry.

“I again congratulate the winners as well as those who were nominated. Their hard work and dedication to the craft of cheese mongering is one of the main reasons Ireland has such an impressively successful cheese sector.”

Tom Dinneen of Bo Rua and Chair of Cáis said: For Irish farmhouse cheesemakers the Irish Cheese Awards is an important date in our calendar, as we come together as a community to celebrate our achievements.

“This year the judges had the particularly difficult task of putting the eclectic variety of 220 cheeses entered to the taste test to identify their chosen worthy award-winners. 

“While the Irish Cheese Awards recognise individual excellence, every farmhouse cheesemaker can take an equal share of the credit for the outstanding contribution that the sector continues to make to Irish food culture, our rural communities and the dairy industry.”