Husband-and-wife duo Bríd and Roger Fahy, The Burren, Co. Clare approached farm diversification with a difference.
Back in 2005, the Fahys, along with their three young children were forced to put their thinking caps on in a bid to find a new direction for their family-run dairy farm, which has been in the family since the mid-1800’s. At the time, returns were low and farmers were strongly encouraged to diversify on their farms.
“Ice-cream production seemed like an obvious choice to us at the time, as we were in a tourist area. Holidays and ice-cream go together. We had the raw product that was needed and we understood milk.” Bríd told Catherina of That’s Farming.
Finding a niche in the market
After identifying a major niche in the market and taking a great leap of faith, the Fahys branched into ice-cream production in 2006.
From the time when the operation was only in its infancy, the entrepreneurs wanted to keep ahead of the curve and underwent training to enhance their business and ice-cream production skills. In order to produce a quality ice-cream, the Fahys knew that the foundation of their product- the milk had to be of the highest quality and they went in search of a breed suitable for the nature of their business.
“We wanted high-quality milk that was really high in butterfat to make a good quality ice-cream,” Bríd explained.
“During that time, a lot of other farmers were using the milk from the Jersey cow. We felt that the Jersey cow wouldn’t be suitable for the Burren.” Bríd added.
Milking Dairy Shorthorn cows
After periods of intensive research, the couple stumbled upon Dairy Shorthorn cattle and after investigating further into the renowned traits of the breed, the duo were reassured that they had found the “perfect” cow for their system. The family now milk seventy cows, a herd which is split between ten Dairy Shorthorn cows (native to the Burren) and sixty Holstein Friesians.
Counting over one decade later, the Fahy’s business has continued to climb the ranks with their artisan ice-cream. The ice-cream is free from artificial colouring, flavours, gluten(this excludes the ice-cream that has biscuit added), eggs or preservatives and can be purchased directly from the café, which is located just off the Flaggy Shore.
Several flavours are scooped-up, which includes chocolate, vanilla and mint, along with a number of natural flavours that are abundant in Ireland and particularly in The Burren in Co. Clare. Bríd strives to keep the product true to its roots and she makes every effort to source ingredients in the locality including strawberries, while wild hazelnuts and wild blackberries are acquired from the Burren.
“Anything that can be forged is suitable for ice-cream. I find myself using anything from lavender, wild gorse and elder-flower. The best thing about ice-cream is that you can have so many flavours.” Bríd explained.
Awards- Gaining recognition
With a quality product deeply rooted in the Irish Agri-food sector, Linnalla Ice-cream has secured its fair share of prestigious accolades down through the years.
“We won an award through the UK Ice Cream Alliance. I am an international judge for them also meaning that I officiate as a judge for the competition.” Brid said.
“It’s a great experience taking part and getting the opportunity to taste everyone’s ice-cream,” Bríd said.
“I won an FBD Women in Agriculture Award in the Agri-food innovation category, which I was honoured to receive,” Bríd added.
Brid also takes pride in the fact that her business was short-listed in the top 10 places to eat in the west of Ireland by The Telegraph destination expert in 2015. The business was also voted as one of the fifty secrets of the wild Atlantic Way and Irish Times No 21 in 50 Ways to go green.
“It’s fantastic when you see yourself up there with some of the top businesses. It gives you a standard to judge yourself by.” Brid said.
Linnalla Ice-Cream is also a member of the Burren Ecotourism Network, European Destination of Excellence- Tourism and Local Gastronomy, Ireland’s Foodie Destination 2015 and the official tourism partner of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geo Park.
In terms of pushing the success of Linnalla Ice-cream a step further, Brid’s and Roger have many progressive plans stirring in the pipeline.
“I want to continue to develop the ice-cream in our own café here and to continue to offer a quality product to our dedicated customers,” Brid said.
“We want to be able to give people an understanding from cow to lick and to show people that process involved. We want to do a lot more farm tours too.” Brid concluded.
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