Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 24 April 2018

How a father and daughter got their organic farm on a food tourism map

'Chefs now want to sample and see where their produce comes from'

Making a buck: Pat Mulcahy with some of his deer on Ballinwillin House Farm near Mitchelstown, Co Cork Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Making a buck: Pat Mulcahy with some of his deer on Ballinwillin House Farm near Mitchelstown, Co Cork Photo: O'Gorman Photography
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

Pat Mulcahy and his daughter Sheena from Ballinwillin House and Farm near Mitchelstown and have a herd of 800 deer, 350 wild boar, 150 goats and 40 beef cattle.

The produce from his organic farm is sold online, mainly to the UK and Europe, and into hotels and restaurants around the country.

All the processing and packaging is carried out on the farm so what goes out is a finished product. The produce from the farm is also served in the B&B.

"We had this idea that we would start trading with each other and inter-trading and try to create a few jobs in the area by working together," Pat explains.

"The whole ethos is about the farming community and businesses working together to try to create jobs."

Pat bought Ballinwillin House in 1985 and started importing deer and wild boar from Hungary about 10 years later and now has two fine breeding herds that produce all the meat that's processed and packaged on farm.

"If you go back 30 years when we started doing this first, it was a hard enough sell and in some cases, Irish people can still be very traditional about the food they eat.

"Chefs now want to sample and see where their produce comes from and it's chefs like that who know what we do that give us the name we have now."

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Pat sees the biggest challenge in setting up something like the Butter Roads Trail - a food tourist trail around the original Cork butter routes - is getting people to see the future.

"People ask why they should join it and I'd tell them it's for the future and trying to create a better future for their area and their family.

"Already it's paying dividends. We would be dealing with about 10 restaurants and hotels that we didn't deal with before the Butter Roads Trail and we're also buying stuff from people we didn't know existed before this," he said.

Now when his guests are looking for recommendations for places to stay and eat, he refers them to other people on the Butter Roads Trail network.

"Tourism is rampant and there are huge numbers coming into the country for business and food tourism and if you have places they can eat and stay you try to hold them in your area for another 24 hours and get them to spend some of their money in the area. That is hugely beneficial," he said.


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