From fresh West Coast langoustine to lamb sourced from Achill Island, the award-winning cuisine at George V Dining Room is a highlight of any stay at Ashford Castle. Our ingredients are locally sourced where possible to celebrate the country’s quality home-grown produce. While the recommended starter, middle, main and dessert courses may prove irresistible, be sure to leave a little room for the grand finale: our indulgent Irish Farmhouse Cheese Trolley. Each of our featured cheeses has been carefully selected for its flavour, texture and provenance, with a broad range appealing to the most discerning cheese lover. Allow us to introduce a few of our favourite Irish cheeses, best sampled with a glass of our vintage port.
Cloonconra Soft Cheese
A sturdy pedigree herd of Irish Moiled cows is behind James Gannon’s creamy Cloonconra Soft Cheese. Notable for the delicate hint of citrus that undercuts its mild flavour, this smooth farmhouse cheese is made from raw, organic milk that undergoes a three-day process. Gannon, who first produced the cheese on his farm in County Roscommon in 2015, jokes that Monday’s grass is Wednesday’s cheese at Cloonconra.
St Tola Goat Cheese
Partners in life and business, former school teachers John Harrington and Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith took on St Tola 20 years ago. The farm produces an award-winning range of cheeses, but its Ash Log is the real crowd pleaser. The fresh goat cheese is made from raw milk and hand-rolled in food-grade ash to slow the maturation process. The result? An elegant, full-bodied Irish cheese that’s a perennial favourite on our trolley.
The rolling farmlands of County Wicklow are where Tom Burgess has been making his award-winning Cheddar for the past 20 years. Each truckle of Coolattin Cheddar is processed in the summer as the cows are grazing on pastures rich in clover. It’s then matured for more than a year, resulting in the Irish cheese’s complex, nutty flavour.
Ireland’s answer to the continental soft cheese, Breda Maher’s unctuous Camembert is made from raw milk from Cooleeney Farm’s pedigree Friesian herd. Its distinctive notes of grass and fresh mushroom are redolent of its provenance in Tipperary. The Mahers have been farming here for four generations, and count the land’s clover-rich pastures as one of the reasons their cheeses are so delicious.
Mossfield Organic Farm at the foot of the rolling wilds of the Slieve Bloom Mountains is extraordinarily picturesque. A little of this natural beauty certainly features in Ralph Haslam’s buttery Gouda, made of creamy pasteurised milk from his 80-strong herd. A relatively recent addition to Ralph’s repertoire, this cheese is perfect for those who prefer a mild, sweet palate.
It’s tempting to liken Cashel Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers’ Crozier Blue to Roquefort, but that would be doing this unique pasteurised sheep’s cheese a disservice. A prettily marbled blue cheese with an appealing creamy texture, its satisfying saltiness and bold tang make this a very moreish contender on our Irish cheese trolley
Dine at George V Dining Room at Ashford Castle to sample some of Ireland’s prime local ingredients in a sophisticated setting.
Image credits: lead image © Cloonconra Farm. Dairy cows © Coolattin Cheddar. St Tola cheese © St Tola. Cooleeney cheese © Cooleeney Farm