What is Celtic cheese? Is it a thing? (Yes)
Welsh and Irish – or Celtic - cheese share many of the same characteristics.
Historically, the Celts are defined as a people who share similar Celtic languages, cultures and artistic histories, and who live in or descend from regions on the western extremities of Europe. These areas include Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany in France.
So why do these regions have such excellent cheeses?
As with all cheese – it comes down to landscape, people and passion.
For a start, centuries ago, although these peoples were pushed out by Saxons and Normans down the years, they ended up in some of the most fertile and lush farmlands. Remote they may be, but as far as the production of great cow's milk goes, they are perfect.
Great cheese needs great milk, and great milk comes from happy, healthy, well-fed cows...
The story starts with generous rainfall, that creates wonderful grasslands, just perfect for dairy farming. Producing lots of great milk is only the start. It takes great people too.
Like the majority of the British Isles, the cheese industry in Wales and Ireland went from smaller artisan production to almost extinction during two world wars (where only cheddar was encouraged) and the various milk marketing boards, to rebirth in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
After many years of traditional revival, innovation, and very hard work by some passionate people, the cheese of these regions is now in amazing good health.
Blending the innovative creations that come from developing and attracting some of the world’s best cheesemakers, to a great respect for traditional ways and skills – Celtic cheese is exciting and delicious!
Some fantastic Celtic cheesemakers:
Cashel Farmhouse Cheese
They’ve been making blue cheese in Tipperary, Ireland for over 35 years, and are always looking for new ways to add to their repertoire. They only use local, grass-fed milk from within a 25km radius of their farm.
Producing some of the most acclaimed artisan Welsh cheeses in Lancych, South West Wales, for over 30 years. They make the delicious, traditional Caerffili, as well as some amazing blues and seductive soft cheeses.
Pant Mawr Farmhouse Cheeses is a family-run business located in the foothills of the Preseli Mountains in Rosebush, Pembrokeshire. They have won many awards for their handmade creamy Smoked Cerwyn and really distinctive soft cheese Caws Preseli.
Caws Rhyd Y Delyn, a small dairy farm located on the Isle of Anglesey, is run by Maldwyn and Menai Jones. They make - among others - Môn Las, a popular firm blue cheese, and Gouda Mon, a Welsh version of a classic traditional Dutch Gouda.