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What a start to 2014!

Following on from a stormy end to last year, 2014 started with a series of storms culminating on 12th February with hurricane force winds that swept across Ireland and 25 metre high waves out at sea! Here in Tipperary we were particularly badly hit, with trees collapsing all across the county. On Beechmount alone we lost in excess of 30 well established trees including one of the original Beech trees planted at the time of building Beechmount house estimated at 350 years of age was lost. Phone and electricity were also down for days (thank God for generators!) The kids were happy, though: no school due to power cut and the storm was followed by a few snow showers!

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Reviewing the damage! The aftermath of the hurricane force winds of 12th Feb.

On a more positive note, the year started with lambing on Ballinamona Farm. There is always something special about seeing the first lambs bound around. Not quite sure what it is, maybe it’s the promise of the coming Spring and the lengthening days! This was followed by calving here on Beechmount and now we are back to lambing. It has been a busy start, but all is going well and both cows and sheep are now enjoying the drier, sunnier weather, and of course the fresh grass that is now sprouting again!

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The first lamb of 2014 is born!

However, it hasn’t all been fun and excitement and we have had to actually “get out there” and sell some of our cheese. In late February Sarah, along with a group of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, attended the Salon du Fromage, a biennial cheese show held as part of the Salon de l’Agriculture in Paris. This was Sarah’s second time attending the Salon, having taken part in 2012. It was nice to see how much interest there was in all the Irish Farmhouse Cheeses, as well as discovering how well known and appreciated Cashel Blue is in France, the spiritual homeland of cheese. What a difference from 2 years ago! More shocking was to discover that there is a shop about to open in Paris selling only imported cheeses! How times have changed…It was not that long ago that the whole world was looking to France for quality cheese, now things seem to be moving in the other direction.

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Cheesemaking team Ireland with Bord Bia in Paris

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Sarah Furno in convesation with a Japaneese Customer visiting Paris for the Salon du Fromage.

The Salon was followed by the lead up to St Patrick’s Day, a busy time for all things Irish and a great excuse for a party. Some of us had the arduous task of supporting our local parades, admiring the floats and shouting out encouragement to the participants. Others, PJ in particular, flew over to London to take part in the St Patrick’s Market on Trafalgar Square. Eleven Irish food producers took over this busy London intersection, showcasing some of the very best of Irish food. This is always a fun event, made all the more “electric” by the 20th anniversary celebrations of Riverdance. Again, we shared a stand with a number of other Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers (St Tola Goat’s Cheese, Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese, Milleens Farmhouse Cheese and The Little Milk Co.) And again, the cheeses proved popular, with the creamier Cashel Blue and St Killian (made by Patrick Berridge of Carrigbyrne Farmhouse Cheese) going down particularly well.

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16th March Trafalgar Square: Getting ready for the masses!

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While all this was going on Jane and Louis Grubb took a well deserved and long overdue break. More on their trip to South America to follow…

And so the first three months of 2014 have drawn to a close. We look forward to what promises to be a memorable 2014.

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