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Minister Coveney Congratulates Kilree Win at British Cheese Awards

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today extended his warmest congratulations to Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna Farm House Cheese on winning the "Supreme Champion" award at the British Cheese Awards for its Kilree Goats cheese.

Kilree Farmhouse Cheese, a homemade goat's cheese, wowed the judges, an esteemed panel of cheese experts, food writers, chefs and culinary figures. Commenting on the award Helen said "for us, this event is huge. It just opens the door to the UK market and allows us to trade to independents and big supermarkets. We anticipate that the cheese will be available for the Christmas market. It's amazing how many people love cheese. This is a real celebration for cheese-making."

Minister Coveney applauded Helen Finnegan's success "I am extremely proud of the recognition of the new Kilree Goats cheese from Knockdrinna. I hope that this recognition will successfully launch your products into new retailers and suppliers".

The Minister added that "In Ireland each cheese is unique to each producer, allowing for innovation and creativity. The defining characteristic for Irish farmhouse cheese however, is its authenticity. Producers draw on milk from grassland farming and the cheese is hand crafted and delivers on taste every time." The Minister was also delighted that a further 30 Irish cheeses enjoyed success at the awards.

The production of farmhouse cheese in Ireland experienced a revival and now has some 50 farmhouse cheese-makers with an estimated turnover of €12 million in Artisan and specialty foods. Seeking out local food experiences has risen on the agenda of visiting tourists with the market for food tourism in Ireland now valued at €2.2 billion.

Note for editors

A record total of 905 cheeses were entered into this year's British Cheese Awards.

On Friday, 23rd September, the goat's cheese Kilree made by Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese was crowned Supreme Champion. Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese has been making cheese since 2004 at a farm in Stoneyford Co Kilkenny. Kilree Goats cheese was part of the cheeseboard served to Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at the State Banquet held in Dublin Castle earlier this year.

The quality and innovation of Irish farmhouse cheese was further recognised with over 30 additional Irish cheeses enjoying success at what is commonly known as the "Oscars" of the dairy world.

Irish farmhouse cheese plays a fundamental role in the growth and development of Ireland's artisan dairy sector.  From its beginnings, only 30 years ago, the sector has grown to encompass 47 producers and over 127 individual cheese types. The sheer breadth of cheese produced reflects the innovation and ingenuity these entrepreneurs offer.

Date Released: 28 September 2011