Experts at Kerrygold name Ireland’s best cheese
It might be worth leaving an open spot on your Christmas cheese board, because experts at Kerrygold have named the country’s best cheese.
Limerick cheese maker Jim O'Brien was bestowed the top award for his aged cheddar on Saturday, presented to him during a ceremony at Listowel Food Fair.
Jim, who is a dairy farmer, began producing cheese with during the recession when work dried up for his son John, who worked as an electrical engineer. The Ballyhahill man was thrilled to be come out on top of the high calibre contenders in the National Kerrygold Cheese Competition this weekend.
“It was during the tough years of the recession that we decided to make cheese. My son John lost his job as an electrical engineer in Ireland during the recession and was forced to move to Australia to seek new opportunities,” he said.
“At that stage we started to looking at options to bring John back to Ireland and to the family farming business here in Limerick. We wanted to add value to the existing milk business here on the farm and we wanted to create another full time job for a member of our family. When John came back from Australia he took a six month break from his career as an electrical engineer and dedicated his time to supporting both myself and his family in creating my vision to produce Artisan cheese,” said Jim.
The family is the only farm in Limerick producing cheese using their own milk and Jim admitted the new venture was inspired by his father, who was also a dairy farmer.
“I am totally amazed at how quickly my cheese was recognised nationally. I have been a great admirer of all the Artisan cheese makers in Ireland over the last twenty years. They have encouraged me to make my own cheese because of the high quality of the cheese produced in Ireland,” he said.