16 Most Popular & Tasty Irish Cheeses
Ireland is home to some of the finest dairy products in the world. This is, in large part, due to its climate. The island of Ireland has one of the longest grass-growing seasons on the planet. Because of this, Irish farm animals are fed fewer growth hormones and have an all-around more natural diet, making their dairy products look and taste more vibrant and delicious.
Cheesemaking has long been a tradition in Ireland. However, the 1970s saw a boom that has continued to this day.
In fact, Irish cheese is in such high demand nowadays that 47% of the cheddar exported to the UK comes from Ireland. With all sorts of artisanal cheeses to suit every palette, the Irish cheese scene is bursting with exciting flavor combinations to delight your tastebuds.
This article takes you on a culinary journey of the top 15 Irish cheeses you need to try.
1. Bluebell Falls Irish Farmhouse Goat’s Cheese
Bluebell Falls produces award-winning, organic goat’s cheese. This 100% Irish product is produced on a small farm near Charleville in County Cork, an area well-known for its mouth-watering local cheese.
Goats roam and graze freely on high-quality grass on this family farm, giving the cheese an incredibly creamy texture. Bluebell Falls Goat’s Cheese comes in several scrumptious flavors, including original, honey & garlic, and pepper, mixed herbs & garlic. Perfect for smothering on a cracker or adding to a salad.
2. Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese Oakwood Smoked Cheddar
Made from raw cow’s milk, Knockanore cheddar is a rich and creamy hard-pressed cheese. This cheese is produced on a farm in the township of Ballyneety, Country Waterford. Knockanore means “the hill of gold” in Irish, which perfectly sums up the rolling green hills of the area.
The family farm is run by Eamonn and Patricia Lonergan, who have a herd of pedigree Fresian cows that graze on the lush grass. The full cream, raw cow’s milk from these cows is used to produce the cheese and give it a subtle, almost earthy flavor.
Knockanore produces a mature white and mature red cheese, but the iconic Oakwood smoked is the standout product. This cheese is cold-smoked for 10 days in the farm’s smokehouse using locally-sourced oak for a rich, yet subtle cheese you won’t forget in a hurry.
3. Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese Wicklow Bán
Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese is a small family farm located in County Wicklow. The farm produces deliciously creamy, handmade brie, blue, and cheddar cheese.
Dairy farm owner John Hempenstall began making cheese back in 2005 as a way of supplementing the income of his family farm in County Wicklow. Since then, cheesemaking has become his number one activity.
This double cream artisan brie is both rich and mild, with a unique flavor that has to be tasted to be believed. The family uses its own pasteurized milk from its herd of Friesian cows to create the perfect texture.
Wicklow Bán has won several awards over the years and pairs perfectly with chutney, deep-fried, or as a mouth-watering breakfast cheese. No Irish cheese board is complete without this delightfully distinctive, creamy brie.
4. Wilma’s Killorglin Farmhouse Gouda
Wilma’s Killorglin Farmhouse Cheese is an Irish staple. Wilma Silvius, originally from Holland, has been a cheesemaking institution in County Kerry since the 1980s. Wilma produces a delectable Dutch-style gouda cheese during the summer months on her farm at the foothills of the Kerry Mountains.
Her flavored gouda is a smash hit with locals, and she produces exciting flavor combinations such as gouda with seaweed, fenugreek, cloves, and cumin.
Wilma’s cheeses are aged anywhere from two months, for a soft and light texture, to a year, for a denser texture. Made using milk from her own herd of cows, Wilma’s range of gouda cheeses are packed full of unconventional flavors to satisfy every type of cheese lover.
You can sample Wilma’s well-known cheeses by visiting her at Wilma’s Cheese and Farm Shop, located along the Wild Atlantic Way. As well as world-class cheese, you can also find a selection of other fresh locally-grown produce.
5. Macroom Buffalo Ricotta
Yes, you read that right! Country Cork, tucked away in the South-west of Ireland, is home to Ireland’s very first herd of milking water buffalo.
Macroom Buffalo is owned by husband and wife team, Johnny and Geraldine. On their farm, they produce a selection of cheeses such as haloumi (Buffaloumi), mozzarella, salad cheese, and tasty ricotta, all made from fresh buffalo milk.
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Perfect for spreading on toast, crumbling into pasta dishes, or serving with desserts, this heavenly Buffalo ricotta has been making waves in the Irish culinary scene. The 150-acre farm is located in Cill na Martra near Macroom in County Cork, where the herd of over 75 buffalos is flourishing in the Irish countryside.
6. Old Irish Creamery Walnut Cheddar
The Old Irish Creamery produces a range of award-winning, handcrafted cheddar cheeses in an array of distinctive flavors such as blueberry, wine, chilli, and chive. The walnut cheddar is a firm favourite in Ireland.
Produced in Effin, County Limerick, Old Irish Creamery walnut cheddar is a scrumptious, pasteurized cheddar cheese with a natural rind. Infused with walnuts, this cheese has a crumbly and crunchy texture and a fresh, nutty flavor that is perfect in salads.
All the cheeses produced at the Old Irish Creamery are made with 100% natural ingredients and are handcrafted in Ireland, making this family-run Irish cheesemaker a household name across the Emerald Isle.
For cheddar with a twist, be sure to sample some of this tasty walnut cheddar with a cold glass of local craft beer or whiskey. Simply divine.
7. Coolea Farmhouse Cheese
Perched in the mountains of Coolea in the west of Cork, there lies a mountain farm that produces Coolea Farmhouse cheese. Holland native Helen Willems and her Irish husband Dick Willems use milk from their cow herd to make this award-winning cheese.
What began as a hobby in the late 1970s has become a fully-fledged family business produces foods that can be found in food markets, foodie events, and fridges across Ireland.
Made from full-fat cow’s milk, Coolea is a smooth cheese with a creamy texture similar to Gouda. This semi-hard cheese boasts a golden, buttery color and a unique caramel flavor that has hints of butterscotch, earth, and nuts.
The thick wax rind locks in the smooth texture and the deep flavor that becomes fuller at each stage of maturity. The standouts are the Coolea Matured and Extra Matured. Rich, sweet, and brimming with flavor, this cheese is excellent with a cold glass of pale ale.
8. Cashel Blue Cheese
Ireland’s first farmhouse blue cheese is produced on a family-run dairy farm in County Tipperary. In the early 1980s, locals Louis and Jane Grubb set out on their mission to create an Irish farmhouse cheese that showed off the exceptional quality of grass-fed milk in Tipperary.
They developed Cashel Blue, a semi-soft blue cheese made from cow’s milk that is delightfully creamy and mild with that signature tangy aftertaste of blue cheese.
As the very first blue cheese produced in Ireland, Cashel Blue was the name on everybody’s lips and has remained there ever since.
Since its development, Cashel Blue has won a stream of accolades and been included in recipes by major food writers across the UK and Ireland. The Grubb family has continued to expand their business, now offering Cashel Blue Organic and several hard sheep’s milk cheese options as well as their iconic blue cheese.
9. Cahills Whiskey Cheese
The Cahill family are one of the longest-standing cheesemaking families in Ireland. For over four generations, the family has been producing artisan cheese in the lush green fields of the Golden Vale in County Limerick.
In true Irish style, the Cahill family decided to combine two of Ireland’s best-loved exports; dairy products and whiskey. The result is a scrumptious, rich cheddar.
Cahill’s whiskey cheese is a handmade vintage cheddar made using pasteurized cow’s milk and Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, sourced from the Cooley distillery in County Louth. Originally produced for festive occasions, it was such a hit that it is enjoyed all year round in Ireland.
The cheese is matured for 10 months for a deep flavor. The whiskey gives the cheese a gorgeous golden hue and a creamy, smooth flavor that isn’t overpowering. With hints of butterscotch, pecan, and whiskey, this delicious semi-hard cheddar pairs perfectly with fruit, chutneys, or in a gourmet sandwich.
10. Cratloe Hill Sheep’s Cheese
A little farm in the foothills of Cratloe, County Clare became a pioneer in the Irish cheesemaking scene when husband and wife duo, Deidre and Sean, decided to try their hand at making sheep’s cheese.
While sheep’s cheese has been a staple in Europe for centuries, it hadn’t made it to the island of Ireland. That is until 1988, when the couple turned their hobby into a reality. Their passion for cheese led them all over Europe, learning from the best.
Cratloe Hill Sheep’s cheese takes over 24 hours to craft and is then matured for between 3 and 15 months. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that becomes more robust as it matures. Since its birth over 30 years ago, Cratloe Hills cheese has won a number of prestigious awards and is a regular ingredient on some of the most sought after menus in the country.
From Walford salad, Wild Atlantic scallops, or pan-seared Atlantic halibut, Cratloe cheese elevates any dish.
11. Gubbeen Cheese
Gubbeen Cheese is produced on a coastal farm just outside Schull, a small fishing village. All the farm animals on the 250-acre farm are given GM-free feed. As well as the cattle that produce the milk used in the cheese, the farm is also home to rare breeds of turkey and pigs that roam freely.
Run by the Ferguson family, the Gubbean farm produces a range of artisanal products such as smoked meats and heirloom poultry.
The farm only produces one cheese, but this cheese is highly revered as the best washed-rind cheese in Ireland. It’s a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk and has a distinctive pink and white rind. It has a unique, creamy flavor with hints of mushroom, hazelnut, butter, and a forest floor aroma.
Its mild flavor pairs wonderfully with an aromatic white wine, some crusty bread, and a fresh salad.
12. Dingle Peninsula Cheese Dilliskus
After perfecting her skills in Switzerland and Germany, German cheesemaker, Maja Binder, set down roots in Ireland’s westernmost point, Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Dingle Peninsula is touted as one of the most breathtaking parts of Ireland.
With lush, rolling hills perched over the Atlantic ocean, it has a touch of magic. Since settling in Dingle, Maja now produces an array of seasonal semi-hard and hard cheeses.
The shining star in her armour is the Dilliskus. Made with raw cow’s milk and infused with Dulse seaweed, this stunning, semi-soft cheese is stone pressed and matured in a stone storehouse that is over 200 years old.
The Dulse gives the cheese a trademark dark marbled look and a slightly salty, almost spicy finish. This cheese is packed with character and embodies the innovation of Irish cuisine.
13. Cáis na tíre Irish Farmhouse Gouda
Cáis na Tíre, which translates as country cheese, was founded by couple Barry Cahalan and Lorraine Davis. Putting their agriculture degrees to good use, they produced their first cheese in 2014, which landed them several awards at the Irish Cheese Awards.
The pair has continued to win awards for their cheese ever since.
Cáis na tíre is a firm sheep’s cheese, similar to a manchego. The cheese is made using the couple’s own sheep’s milk and is aged for a minimum of six months. As it matures, it develops a deliciously sweet caramel flavor with an earthy aroma.
It goes exceedingly well in pasta dishes or drizzled with honey and topped with pancetta and pomegranate seeds.
14. St Killian Cheese
No list of Irish cheese would be complete without mentioning St Killian. St. Killian cheese is one of the oldest Irish cheeses. Produced on a farm in Adamstown, County Wexford, it’s a scrumptious camembert-style soft cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Cheesemakers Patrick and Juliet Berridge, from the Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese Company, have been making brie-style cheese on their farm for over 30 years, using milk from their own herd of cattle.
Creamy and soft with flavors of mushroom and caramel, this Irish institution is a welcome addition to any Irish cheeseboard.
15. Durrus Farmhouse Cheese
Jeffa Gill began making cheese in the late 1970s on her small family farm in West Cork. Forty years later, her hand-crafted cheese has won her a plethora of awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Irish Food Writers Guild in 2020, recognising her contribution to Irish Food.
Durrus Farmhouse cheese is renowned for its high quality and for using traditional artisanal techniques. A Swiss cheese harp is used to hand cut the curd in a traditional copper-lined cheese vat.
The family now produces a range of semi-soft and semi-hard cheeses made from pasteurized cow’s milk, whole cow’s milk, and raw whole cow’s milk for every palette. Jeffa is one of the longest-standing cheesemakers in Ireland and is famous around Cork for producing gold standard cheese products.
With notes of nuts, bacon, fruit, and mild spices, this cheese pairs perfectly with a cold glass of sparkling white wine.
Last on our list of the top Irish cheeses is the longest established Irish farmhouse cheese, Milleens. Hailing from the Beara peninsula in West Cork, Milleens is a washed rind artisanal cheese made from whole cow’s milk. Milleens was first produced in 1976 by Veronica and Norman Steele, using pasteurized milk from Friesian cows that freely graze the mountains and fields of the peninsula.
Milleens is a creamy cheese with a unique flavor that is sweet, floral, and aromatic with hints of mushroom. The washed rind ranges from a soft peach to a deep orange color. Milleens cheese pairs perfectly with pasta dishes, sun-dried tomatoes, or a blood orange chutney. A taste of tradition.
As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat” and Irish farm animals feed on the highest-quality grass. Irish cuisine is often praised for its simple approach, using only the finest ingredients. And its cheese offerings are no exception. With top-quality grass, unconventional pairings, traditional production methods, and an abundance of small, local farms, Ireland is truly a cheese lover’s paradise.
Whether you’re a local or just passing through, be sure to visit one of the many farmer’s markets or local farm shops for an authentic cheese-tasting experience. To make it truly Irish, why not wash the cheese down with an Irish whiskey or cold ale instead of the usual glass of wine. It’s a match made in heaven. We promise.