Mountain lamb is a seasonal speciality – the earliest they reach the market is late July, high season is from late August to October, with some available even later. A diet of heather, wild grasses and herbs creates the very special flavour of Kerry Mountain lamb, which graze the high mountains for 6-7 months by which time they weigh about 40kg and are ready for eating.
It is a treat highly prized by gourmets and, farmer Patrick Moran – a champion sheep-shearer in his spare time – was singled out for an award for his quality meat by the Irish Food Writers’ Guild.
For four generations, the Moran family has farmed the mountain slopes on western edge of the Ring of Kerry. The mountain lamb Patrick and his wife Anne breed are directly descended from the Scottish Black Face breed, introduced into the mountainous areas of the South and West of Ireland in the mid-19th century; since then, they have evolved smaller and leaner, in response to local conditions.
Mountain lambs are widely available from local Kerry butchers, and half or whole carcasses of Patrick’s lamb on the bone can be bought from the farm for home-freezing.