Knockanore, Ballyneety, Co. Waterford
Tours: by appointment
Phone: 024 97275
The lush verdant countryside and temperate climate of Knockanore Valley, Co. Waterford provide the perfect raw materials for Eamonn Lonergan’s pedigree herd of Friesian cows to produce the most nutritious and tasty milk.
The herd was built up patiently by Eamonn and his father, who originally started with just four Kerry cows. Today, the herd is 120 strong. It was at an early age that Eamonn recognised they had a uniquely high quality product and instead of just sending the milk to the local co-op he wanted to use it to make good cheese.
An RTE programme, broadcast in 1985, featuring Veronica and Norman Steele of Milleens Cheese was the catalyst that cemented Eamonn’s decision to learn how to make great cheese. Interest piqued, he enrolled in a cheese making course at UCC and there gained the knowledge, skills and insight into cheese-making.
In 1987, after several years of research, trial and the odd tribulation, Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese became a reality.
Knockanore, with its subtle flavour and rich creamy texture comes in vintage red and white or flavoured with herbs and spices. The most iconic cheese in the range is Oakwood smoked mature cheddar, which is smoked in the farm’s smokehouse using oak sourced from the neighbouring town of Lismore.
Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese is not without plaudits and over the years has built up an impressive trophy haul that includes the prestigious Ballygowan Food Writers Award, gold and silver from the SHOP Expo International Cheese competition and gold and silver at the World Cheese Awards, amongst others. However, it was winning gold at the British Cheese Awards in 1996 that was a particularly proud moment for Eamonn and his family. This most prestigious of awards is critically judged by a range of experts and the affirmation helped underpin the Knockanore brand over the years.
Eamonn is passionate about producing the best cheeses and exploring the best ways to produce them. He recently invested in new state-of-the art equipment to extend and modernise the cheese making facility. There are also plans afoot to roll out a new flow wrapped packaging system for all Knockanore’s pre-packed cheeses. Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese also has plans to introduce a new brand which emphasises the core message of their family produced raw milk farmhouse cheese.
What is paramount to Eamonn and the team is retaining the unique quality and flavour of the cheese.
The next stages for Eamonn include growing the business, particularly within the food service sector, exploring new export markets, developing new ranges and educating the public and chefs about the different flavours and textures of artisan cheese.
As the parents of adult children Eamonn and his wife Patricia would love if one of their children chose to join the family firm and build on its success, “We would love to see them involved in the business, but equally would never push them into it, unless they truly have the same passion for it as we do.”
It’s Eamonn’s passion, pride and dedication in producing such a high calibre, tasty product that sees Knockanore Farmhouse Cheese stocked in selected SuperValu’s, Dunnes Stores and many good independent outlets throughout the country.
The range can also be found in selected outlets in the UK, France and the US.