Kanturk is in the Duhallow region of County Cork, which is famed for its clean environment and rich grasslands - just the perfect requirements for the Burns family’s wonderful Ardrahan, a pungent semi-soft cows’ milk cheese, which they have made from the milk of their own herd of pedigree Friesians since Mary and her husband, the late Eugene Burns, perfected the recipe in1983.
Since Eugene’s untimely death in 2000, Mary runs the business together with her son, Gerald. They also produce a milder cheese, Duhallow, and the magical Lullaby Milk, which is milked before first light to retain the maximum amount of melatonin, a substance which helps the body to regulate sleep-wake patterns naturally.
Ardrahan is a washed rind cheese with a deep golden colour and - despite its pungent aroma - the yellow, buttery textured paste has a surprisingly delicate flavour, especially when young, and it always makes a wonderful contribution to a cheeseboard. It is made in a large wheel (about 1kg) and a smaller one (about 300g), which is a convenient size for domestic use.
This delicious cheese has won numerous awards and accolades and is widely available from cheese shops and good independent stores. The premier Irish cheese prize at the British Cheese Awards is the Eugene Burns Memorial Trophy, given in honour of Mary Burns’ late husband.