Murphys Ice Cream

Sean and Kieran MurphyWe may not always like the rain but it makes for great grass – the key to Ireland’s well-earned reputation for wonderful dairy produce. For the last few decades, that rich creamy milk has been the foundation for the ever-growing number of superb handmade cheeses that are now so familiar that we almost take them for granted - and, more recently, a surprising number of entrepreneurs looking for a niche product have taken to making artisan ice creams.

And very good a lot of it is too - what the best examples all have in common is a commitment to quality products using the very best local ingredients, which has the world beating a path to their doors. The extremely successful Murphys Ice Cream, made by brothers Seán & Kieran Murphy in Dingle, Co Kerry, is a good example.

Murphys Ice Cream - Killarney County Kerry IrelandAnyone visiting Dingle lately will know the cheerful blue and white Murphys Ice Cream shop, where you can have a really good coffee and a slice of one of Sean’s wife Wiebke’s fabulous German gateaux, as well as the full range of their ice creams. It was so successful that they opened a Killarney shop, and then they wrote a book about it all too, The Book of Sweet Things (Mercier Press, €19.99), so their recipes are there for everyone to share.

The brothers are American, but visited Ireland often when growing up because their father is from Cork. They felt so at home in Dingle that they decided to find a way to live there - and, with the help of the milk from the black Kerry cows, the idea of making ice cream for a living was born. Now almost the whole family has relocated to Kerry, including their Aunt Carol, their father’s sister who taught them all about good home cooking.

It’s a great success story and, written in Kieran’s languid laid-back style, The Book of Sweet Things makes an enjoyable read. But at the heart of it there’s a serious business message and there’s loads of practical stuff there too – an emphasis on the importance of using the best ingredients, suggestions for where to find them, and information on equipment and safety. Every recipe that contains eggs includes instructions on pasteurisation, and they wisely suggest that readers visit the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s website,

As well as the shops in Dingle and Killarney, Murphys ice cream scoops are available in Powerscourt Townhouse Café, Dublin; McCambridges Food Emporium, Galway; The Blue Haven Hotel, Kinsale; and Nude Food in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Tubs are also sold at a growing number of specialist food outlets – see for details.

Seasonality is key to the Murphys philosophy, and there’s no better time to try some summer favourites.

Nell’s Old Fashioned Fruit Cup

Nells Old Fashioned Fruit Cup“Long before Murphys Ice Cream opened its doors on Strand Street, a woman named Nell Grandfield made ice cream from scratch in the very same building and delighted generations of customers. She used fresh cream from the Dingle creamery, and appreciative patrons would stop by Nell’s on their way to the cinema for an ice cream or a chocolate.

Twenty years after Nell shut her doors, my brother and I leased her shop, and we soon met her former customers and heard the stories. Many of them still come in to Murphys, and although our equipment is more modern, our ingredients more exotic, and we cost more than 6 pence, I do think that Nell would have approved.

She was best known for ice cream served in a dish with fruit, and this is a slightly more gourmet version of her fruit cup.”

Click here for recipe

Earl Grey (Tae) Ice Cream

Earl Grey Ice Cream“A few years after I left school, I found myself living in Somerville, a suburb of Boston. In nearby Cambridge, there was a famous little ice cream shop we used to frequent. They were known for strange and wonderful flavours, and one day I found Earl Grey ice cream in their cabinet. I ordered it, but I didn’t expect to like it half as well as I did. Now, as I play around with the ice cream and learn more about chemistry, I know that the tannins in tea cut sweetness. Earl Grey tea generally has a mix of different black teas, including Darjeeling and China tea, but it is the bergamot that really make it distinctive. If you want an adult ice cream that will surprise your guests, this is one to try.”

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Raspberry (Sú Craobh) Sorbet

Raspberry SorbetNot all the Murphys recipes use milk, cream and eggs – they also make great sorbets and this is probably the best of all. “Raspberry is a regal fruit - both the colour and taste are so deep and intense it’s perfect for a  sorbet, where the experience of the fruit is unencumbered by distractions. The ingredients are simple - water, sugar, raspberries, and a bit of lemon or lime. Outside of eating fresh raspberries off the cane, it will be hard to find a raspberry experience so potent.” 

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Strawberry (Sú Talún) Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream - MurphysThis is not a very difficult ice cream to make. “Although” Kieran says, “We beg you to find fresh, ripe strawberries. There’s a farm in Co. Wicklow called ‘Sweetbank’ that gives us fruit and sells our ice cream in their farm shop. We come back with crates that perfume our production facility for days. Perhaps this should be saved for those warm days when the kids are off school and need to be entertained. Making ice cream with them might well be just as enjoyable as eating it when it comes out of the freezer.”

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