Week 11: A day out at the Ardsallagh goat’s cheese company

Once upon a time in the 80s, a door-to-door life insurance salesman rang the Murphy family’s doorbell, and unsuccessful in his purpose, he left a surprising parting gift of on their front lawn – a heavily pregnant goat. It transpires that goat’s milk works miracles for eczema, which Jane Murphy’s children suffered from. One goat led to many goats, and these are the auspicious beginnings of the award-winning Ardsallagh goat’s cheese company, run by Jane Murphy, who kindly invited me to her goat farm and dairy. It was a Sunday afternoon, and Jane and her daughter, Louise, had just finished preparing 1,700 litres of milk for the day. Continue reading

Squatting in an Irish country house

In the 1950s, my very English great aunt Sheila made the bold move of marrying an American. He was called Charlie, and they lived in a beautiful 60 acre Irish estate, near a town called Mallow, in Cork county. Up until now, I had a fairly idyllic vision of Ireland, based on seaside villages and postcard farms, but driving one hour inland shows a rougher reality of copy-and-paste housing, unemployment, Irish travellers and boredom. Continue reading

Week 10: A midsummer night’s dream feast, in pictures

Prologue: an abridged version events

Student 1: “How about we turn the cookery school dining room into a magical forest, and invite 70 members of the public along to a Midsummer Night’s Dream Feast themed three course pop-up dinner, sourcing the food almost entirely from the school farm, in two weeks time?”

Everyone else: “Yeah, why not? YOBO.” (You Only Ballymaloe Once. Yes, that’s a thing we need to abbreviate).

Exit, pursued by a bear. Continue reading