Daru (from Cooleeney Farm)
I love this one year-aged cow's milk cheese with a dusty-looking rind and a dense, hard but silky paste. Breda tells me it's like tasting the salty Atlantic winds sweeping the grass on her farm. Tastes a lot like butter that's been left to age in a cellar.
Gleann Oir (from Cooleeney Farm)
This is Daru's goat's milk cousin. I just might like it even better. It's creamy, crumbly, and addictive. Starts out sweet and then the funky dirt/earth hits you and lingers wonderfully.
Oh man, this cheese tastes like salami. There is nothing wrong and everything right with that. Made by Ann and Pat O'Farrell for 25 years on their farm in East Cork. A snackable wonder, with honeycrisp apples or a cold, frothy ale.
Jeffa Gill has been making Durrus since 1979, which qualifies it as one of the oldest Irish farmstead cheeses. Like Breda, she lets her Friesians graze on the lush pastures for the vast majority of the year—the grass-fed cows make tastier, grassier milk which in turn makes grassier, tastier cheese. This is a nearly-creamy wonder with heady butter and raisiny flavors. It's flirting with funkiness, but coming down on the mild side of the block.
In 1979 Helene and Dick Willems decided to start making cheese on their small farm in the breathtaking mountains of Coolea. It has a Gouda vibe: rich, sweet, caramelly, and wax-coated. Very accessible and lovable.
Giana Ferguson grew up making cheese in Southern Spain, outside Malaga. She's been making Gubbeen outside Schull, in West Cork, since 1980 with her husband from their own herd of Jersey, Fresian, Simmental, and Kerry cows. The classic Gubbeen (pictured here is the smoked version) is a washed rind cheese with a faded orange-pink rind and a supple, semi-soft interior. Flavors of grass, butter, toasted hazelnut, and earthy mushroom.