A familiar product on many of the country's best menus, and winners of more awards than most products ever enter - Great Taste Awards, British Cheese Awards, National Organics Awards, Irish Food Writers' Guild and many more - St Tola organic goat cheese has been made in the townland of Inagh, just south of the Burren, since the early 1980's - originally by Meg and Derrick Gordon then, since 1999, by their neighbour Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith.
Organic since 2001, the 65 acre farm provides the herb-rich grass and hay which is the main diet for the 220 or so Saanen, Toggenburg and British Alpine goats in the St Tola herd, and gives the cheeses - soft, feta style and hard - their distinctive flavour.
Visitors, including school tours, are welcome to the farm on the official open days or by prior arrangement. The goats are lovely and children, especially, will love them. The tour includes meeting the animals, learning about organic farming, a bit of history a cheese making demonstration and a tasting of all the cheeses. Many visitors will be surprised by the number of cheeses made currently about eight, ranging from a gorgeous hard cheese to the the familiar logs, Greek feta-style cheese and soft creamy ones including the aptly named Divine and the cute little crottins. St Tola Cranberry is popular at Christmas and another unusual one, the St Tola Ash log, is showcased at some of Ireland's most exciting restaurants.
Available from speciality food shops and cheese counters eg Sheridans, Burren Smokehouse and Superquinn; the cheeses can also be ordered for courier delivery from the farm (see website).
*St Tola is a member of Burren Eco Tourism's Burren Food Trail (www.burrenecotourism.com/food-dining/the-burren-food-trail/)