Coolea Farmhouse Cheese picked up the inaugural Public Vote award at the biennial Cáis Irish Cheese Awards, held on Thursday 7th November at Cork’s Metropole Hotel.

Hosted by MC and presenter of RTÉ’s Ear to the Ground Helen Carroll, the event featured speeches from Cáis figures including chairman Louis Grubb, chairman of Bord Bia Dan MacSweeney, and members of the trade, as well as expert judge John McKenna.

The Cáis Appreciation Award was presented to 2019 judge Dr Kieran Jordan by chairman of Cáis Louis Grubb. The final and most anticipated award-winner of the night – Supreme Champion – was announced as Marion Roeleveld for her five month matured Killeen Goats Cheese for the Simply Better at Dunnes Stores range.

The Munster region saw an abundance of gold medal winners, while silver and bronze medalists covered ground from Co. Wicklow to the Aran Islands. Some of Ireland’s most well-known cheesemakers, such as Coolea Farmhouse Cheese, Durrus Cheese, Bandon Vale and Ardsallagh Farmhouse Cheese were awarded across multiple categories, as were the Tipperary-based Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers, Waterford-based Knockanore, Galway-based Killeen, and Dozio’s of Mayo.

Since the previous awards ceremony, which took place in 2017, a range of new cheeses and cheesemakers were also introduced and commended on the night. The winners of the New Cheese (available in last 2 years) category hailed from all corners of the country, with Dozio’s of Mayo’s Barr Rua Alpine Style cheese (gold medalist), Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese’s Allenwood Smoked (silver medalist) and Kilnalahan produced by Galway’s Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese (bronze medalist) all scooping awards.

On the night, guests were treated to a five course meal prepared by the Metropole’s Head Chef Stuart Dardis during which 22 award winners – including the Public Vote Award, Cáis Appreciation Award, Supreme Champion and gold medal winners – were announced.

Padraig O’Farrell of CÁIS said: “The Irish Cheese Awards provide those involved in the industry with a wonderful platform to showcase their work and to transform their brands into household names within Ireland and beyond. The event itself also offers an opportunity for producers, both on a large and small scale, to network and build community links.”

Dan MacSweeney, Bord Bia’s Chairman, said: “While these awards recognise individual excellence, all 68 farmhouse cheesemakers can take an equal share of the credit for the outstanding contribution that the sector, valued at €12m, has made to the Irish dairy industry, our culinary culture and to local communities.”

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