Carrigbyrne Cheese is one of the earliest and most enduring success stories of the renaissance of artisan cheese making in Ireland and one of the few pioneers outside of the West Cork area.
The main product, Carrigbyrne St Killian, is one of Ireland’s longest-established and most popular farmhouse cheeses – easily recognisable (even when sold as an own-brand, eg M&S) by its presentation in a smart hexagonal box.
This camembert style cheese has been made since 1982 by dairy farmers Patrick and Juliet Berridge on their family farm close to Adamstown in Co. Wexford, along with their other cheeses, St Brendans and Emerald Irish Brie - and a new Vacherain style cheese is in the pipeline.
Patrick and Juliet (together with French cheesemaker Alain Girod, who joined them 1986) have won regularly at Irish, British and international cheese competitions since the mid-80s, including taking the Best Irish Cheese at the 2007 World Cheese Awards, a 2009 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Award of Excellence and many more.
When young St Killian is firm and light-flavoured, but when you cut through the smooth white rind of a well-matured cheese, a rich creamy paste spills out, full of all the delicious grassy, light flavours of the sunny south-east.
Consistent quality and regular supply make Carrigbyrne one of the most widely available Irish farmhouse cheeses - always on sale in specialist shops and in Tesco, Dunnes, Superquinn, Supervalue, M&S, and Waitrose in the UK and also Metro in Germany - one of their greatest areas of growth.
Carrigbyrne is also known for various recycling and other environmentally exciting projects – and this was the reason for a second Irish Food Writers’ Guild Award, given ‘to acknowledge Irish food producers whose production process has succeeded in having a positive environmental impact on one or more of the following areas: water, waste, energy, by-products and packaging.’
The Berridges were the first winners of this Environmental Award, and the number and variety of environmentally-friendly initiatives practised by them is astonishing. For example, as an early and enthusiastic champion of protecting the environment, in 1997 Patrick was one of the first to install an anaerobic digestor; designed to take slurry from the dairy farm and waste from the cheese plant, it converts organic matter to methane which can be used for heat power and even transport fuel - the compost is spread on the farmland, and this is just one of many excellent and practical ideas practised at Carrigbyrne.