Thursday, April 25, 2024

Nine Cork Farmhouse Cheesemakers Honoured At CÁIS 2024. Hegarty’s ‘Templegall’ Retains Title Of ‘Supreme Champion’

Nine Cork Farmhouse Cheesemakers Honoured At CÁIS 2024 Hegarty’s ‘Templegall’ Retains Title Of ‘Supreme Champion’ 

Supreme Champion again for Dan Hegarty (left) with cheese makers Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin
 and Quentin DubozPics by Finbarr O'Rourke

Nine Farmhouse Cheesemakers from across Co. Cork were honoured this week at the 2024 Irish Cheese Awards during a prestigious ceremony hosted by CÁIS, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, at Kilshane House in Co. Tipperary on Wednesday April 24th. Between them they took home a total of fourteen awards - the most of any county. 

The biennial celebration of Ireland’s farmhouse cheesemakers, now in its tenth year, named winners across

seventeen distinct categories, culminating in naming one winner as this year’s ‘Supreme Champion’. This followed a rigorous judging process that was undertaken by a high calibre panel of Irish and international cheese experts at Teagasc’s Ashtown Food Research Centre last month.

Together, the thirteen judges tasted 175 different cheeses produced by forty-three businesses located across the island of Ireland; from Dart Mountain to Durrus, and Arklow to Aillwee Cave. Each cheese was individually scored on aroma, flavour, body, texture, and overall appearance in order to select this year’s worthy winners.

Cork’s Hegarty’s ‘Templegall’ Named Overall ‘Supreme Champion’:

Hegarty’s ‘Templegall Extra Mature’ raw cow’s milk cheese scooped the top award on the day, being named overall ‘Supreme Champion’. This is the second successive ‘Supreme Champion’ win for the Cork-based cheesemaker, having previously taken home the title at the CÁIS 2021 Irish Cheese Awards.

Named after the village of Whitechurch just outside Cork city where it is made - “An Teampall Geal” in Irish - Hegarty’s Templegall Extra Mature is a hard alpine style cheese which has been specially developed by farmer Dan Hegarty with the assistance of French cheesemakers, Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin and Quentin Duboz.

Templegall Extra Mature is made using raw milk from Hegarty’s pedigree Friesian herd, producing an unpasteurised cheese in 40kg wheels that has to be brushed three times a week in order to maintain the rind of the cheese in peak form. The cheese is then aged for a minimum of eighteen months to allow time for it to develop its deliciously complex flavour profile with fruity yet earthy tones, and hints of nuts and straw.

As well as being named ‘Supreme Champion’, this year’s standout cheese was also awarded a Gold in the ‘Raw Milk Cheese’ category, with Hegarty’s rounding off a hugely successful day by picking up a Bronze for their Cheddar Cheese in the ‘Mature Farmhouse Cheddar Aged Over 12 Months’ category.

Templegall Extra Mature is available to purchase online for nationwide delivery via Hegarty Cheese’s website,, as well as from leading independent food stores and retailers throughout the island of Ireland.

Commenting on his pride at retaining the ‘Supreme Champion’ title, Dan Hegarty said: "We're absolutely thrilled to have retained the Supreme Champion title. A special mention should go to the 150 cows we have back home who are in for milking at the moment as without them none of this success would be possible. 

What makes our Templegall Extra Mature cheese so special is that we only make it during the summer months, when the cows are grazing outside and at their happiest, with milk produced in the morning. Having complete control over the entire process, from what the cows eat to when we make it, is what allows us to produce such an outstanding cheese.

Only a glass window separates the milking parlour from the cheesemaking room, so the morning milk goes straight from the milking parlour to the cheese vat, which is only maybe four metres away. There's zero food miles attached to what we produce and we're working with the freshest milk possible.

It's a cooked, pressed cheese that's really difficult to make because it's unpasteurised. It might only take us half a morning to make, but then there's a whole year of careful minding to ensure we achieve the quality of the cheese we're looking for."

Other Cork-based Award Winners:

Other notable Cork-based award winners, which were announced by Newstalk’s Bobby Kerr, included Dick & Helene Willems of Coolea Farmhouse Cheese part of the group of original founding members of CÁIS. The pioneering pair were presented with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by iconic Irish Food Writers, John and Sally McKenna, in recognition of their passion and long-term commitment to their craft. The couple first started making cheese from milk produced on their small farm in the beautiful mountains of Coolea in West Cork back in 1979. 

The Willems’ ‘Matured Coolea’ cheese also gained recognition, winning a Gold in the ‘Mature Hard Cheese Aged Over 6 Months’ category

In reaction to receiving their Lifetime Achievement award, Coolea Farmhouse Cheese’s Dick & Helene Willems said: "We're both extremely grateful and proud of this award, and feel incredibly honoured to have been acknowledged in this way.

As one of the founding members, we're hugely thankful for the opportunities that being a part of the Association over the last 40 years has given us to work with, and for, so many fantastic Farmhouse Cheesemakers all over Ireland. Go raibh míle maith agat, CÁIS."

Other category winning cheese’s (Gold award) included ‘Durrus Cheese’ (in the ‘Washed Rind Cheese - Semi Soft’ category) and Toons Bridge Dairy’s ‘Smoked Scamorza’ (in the ‘Smoked Cheese’ category).

Cork-based 2024 Irish Cheese Award Winners:

Supreme Champion: Hegarty’s Cheese, Whitechurch, Co. Cork - ‘Templegall Extra Mature’

Food Writer, John McKenna (left), presenting the 'Lifetime Achievement' Award to Dick & Helene Willems of Coolea Farmhouse Cheese at the 2024 Irish Cheese Awards. Pics by  Finbarr O'Rourke Photography 

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Dick & Helene Willems: Coolea Farmhouse Cheese

Category Winners (Gold Awards):

Raw Milk Cheese (All Styles and Milk Types): Hegarty’s Cheese, Whitechurch, Co. Cork - ‘Templegall Extra Mature’

Washed Rind Cheese (Semi Soft, All Milk Types): Durrus Cheese, Coomkeen, Co. Cork -  ‘Durrus Cheese’

Smoked Cheese (All Milk Types): Toons Bridge Dairy, Toonsbridge, Co. Cork - ‘Smoked Scamorza’

Mature Hard Cheese Aged Over 6 Months (All Milk Types): Coolea Farmhouse Cheese, Coolea, Co. Cork - ‘Coolea Matured’

Silver Awards:

Washed Rind Cheese (Semi-Soft, All Milk Types): Durrus Cheese, Coomkeen, Co. Cork - ‘Durrus Óg’

Fresh/Soft Cheese (Buffalo, Cow, Sheep, Mixed Milk): Macroom Buffalo Cheese, Macroom, Co. Cork - ‘Macroom Bocconcini’

Soft Cheese (Flavour Added): Dottie & Dora, Donoughmore, Co. Cork - ‘Dottie and Dora Soft Goat Cheese (Peppercorn)’

Bronze Awards:

Fresh/Soft Cheese (Buffalo, Cow, Sheep, Mixed Milk): Macroom Buffalo Cheese, Macroom, Co. Cork - ‘Buffalo Mozzarella’

Soft Cheese (Flavour Added): Ardsallagh Farmhouse Cheese, Carrigtohill, Co. Cork - ‘Ardsallagh Cranberry Roulade’

Washed Rind Cheese (Semi-Soft, All Milk Types): Milleens Cheese, Beara. Co. Cork - ‘Milleens’

Hard Cheese Flavour Added): Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese, Carrigaline. Co. Cork - ‘Dillisk Seaweed Cheese’

Mature Farmhouse Cheddar Aged Over 12 Months (All Milk Types): Hegarty’s Cheese, Whitechurch. Co. Cork - ‘Hegarty's Cheddar’

Retailer Awards

Also proudly representing Co. Cork in the Retailer’s section of the 2024 Irish Cheese Awards were Bandon Vale Farmhouse Cheese Company, whose ‘Vintage Red Cheddar’ won a Gold for SuperValu Signature Tastes in the ‘Cheddars Retail & Creamery’ category.

In the same section, another of Bandon Vale Farmhouse Cheese Company’s cheeses, ‘Extra Mature Drinagh Cheddar’, scooped a Bronze for Dunnes Stores Simply Better, with Aldi Ardagh Additions’ ‘Black Pepper Flavoured Cheddar Slices’, produced for them by Carbery Group, picking up the Silver.

Dunnes Stores Simply Better were also awarded a Silver for Coolea Farmhouse Cheese’s ‘Coolea Mature’ Cheese in the ‘Semi Hard/Hard Cheese’ category.

Gubbeen Farmhouse Cheese’s ‘Gubbeen Cheese’ secured a Silver award for SuperValu Signature Tastes in the ‘Soft/Semi-Soft Cheese’ Retailer’s category. 

And, West Cork Creamery’s cheese, ‘Bookers Vintage’, landed Sheridans Cheesemongers a Bronze in the Retailer’s ‘Exclusive Cheeses’ category.

The full list of this year’s winners covering all Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards is available to view online via the CÁIS website,  

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