Thursday, March 17, 2011


Goat farmers Tom and Lena Beggane were taught the art of cheesemaking by a Dutch neighbour. They started making Clonmore at their farm in the heart of Cork hurling country, Newtownshandrum, outside Charleville, in the late 1990s. It is handmade using milk from their tiny, free range herd of goats. The Begganes are at the heart of the new wave of lesser known Irish cheesemakers who have broken away from the classic Irish washed rind tradition to explore other styles.

The Begganes’ goats are fortunate enough to enjoy some of the finest grazing in the heart of the Golden Vale. This pasture, more usually associated with dairy farming, lends wonderful richness to their cheese. Tom and Lena are part of that dying breed of Irish cheesemakers who are still involved in the maintenance of their own herd. The majority of Irish farmhouse cheesemakers nowadays prefer to buy their milk from one or two well-trusted local sources. The combination of farming and cheesemaking is extremely demanding in terms of time and patience. Anyone still willing to commit themselves wholeheartedly to both should be greatly admired. The Begganes also run their herd in coincidence with the animals’ natural lactation cycle, allowing the goats to dry out at the end of November and resuming cheesemaking in March. This is a less profitable, more labour intensive business model but ultimately results happier animals and higher quality cheese.

Clonmore is a small, gouda shaped cheese with a beige waxed exterior and a bone white paste that is intermittently freckled with small holes. At its best the cheese is milky on the palate with a mild tang that gently gives way to the unmistakable rounded, goaty finish that typifies Clonmore. It is neither sharp nor soapy yet presents a distinctive and smooth flavour. Clonmore is one of those cheeses that is better served below room temperature. It has a tendency to become slightly oily if unrefrigerated. It partners well with scaled down wines. Enjoy with a traditional Chablis or a good Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. This is undoubtedly one of the rarer Irish cheeses. In all of my international food travels with the export department of Neal’s Yard, I’ve never seen it outside Ireland. I therefore highly recommend that you call into Sheridans Cheesemongers for a sample next time you’re visiting!

Lucy Noami Moylan.

Thanks to Lucy for this collaboration. You can follow her on twitter at @lucymoylan. She is also the mastermind behind Sheridan’s Cheesemongers online presence @SheridansCheese. When not mongering cheese knowledge, Lucy works as a translator (Irish-English) and soon she will be a great ambassador for her country!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone.
Carlos, Lactographer.


  1. Ay, Carlos! First you describe my ideal cheese, then you tell me it's not available outside of Ireland? No fair! :)


  2. Emily, thanks for reading. Now you must book a trip to Ireland and experience everything at the source. Enjoy.