The story of Cashel Blue® and Beechmount farm goes back to the 19th century, when the Grubb family, a Quaker family living in the south-east of Ireland, owned and ran several successful mills in counties Tipperary and Waterford. To this day there is a “Grubb Lane”, by the Westgate in the town of Clonmel.
The modern story begins in 1938 when Samuel Grubb, newly married and returned from his travels in many parts of the world, buys Beechmount Farm from a childhood friend and begins to farm the land, a task carried on by his four children. When Samuel passes away, his son Louis returns to the farm in 1979 with his new wife, Jane, and the couple invest everything they have to buy a dairy herd of 90 cows.
The following year, Jane begins to experiment, making several varieties of cheese after attending a cheesemaking course. The experiments will continue for the next four years but, in the meantime, Jane begins to sell cheeses at the local country market in Fethard. Her first products were quark, a fresh curd cheese, and this is followed by Ballingarry, a Caerphilly-style cheese, and Fethard, a Chesire-style cheese.
In 1983, Louis and Jane are founder members of CAIS, the new association of farmhouse cheesemakers which gathers together the nascent Irish artisan cheesemaking industry. The following year, Jane begins to experiment, making several varieties of cheese after attending a cheesemaking course. The experiments will continue for the next four years but, in the meantime, Jane begins to sell cheeses at the local country market in Fethard. Her first products were quark, a fresh curd cheese, and this is followed by Ballingarry, a Caerphilly-style cheese, and Fethard, a Chesire-style cheese.
In 1984, the first Cashel Blue® is ready for the market. It is the very first Irish blue cheese and, initially, it elicits almost as much bewilderment as excitement in the country. The cheese wins its first accolade that year, being awarded 1st place at the Clones Argricultural Show. Louis and Jane establish the firm of J&L Grubb to produce the cheese. The following year, they receive their first U. K. order from the prestigious Neal’s Yard Dairy, beginning a long-standing relationship between Cashel Blue® and the United Kingdom, a relationship that will be underscored when Queen Elizabeth II is served Cashel Blue at a State Banquet to honour her historic visit to Ireland in 2012. (She is reported to have said ‘how much she liked both Milleens and Cashel Blue‘ during her state visit).
By now, Cashel Blue® has taken on the first of its local employees to keep up with demand for the cheese and, when the cheese wins the Supreme Champion Prize at the International Royal Dublin Society Show in 1987, one of the guest judges, M. Patrick Arena from the legendary Androuet company in Paris decalres that: “If Irish cheesemakers continue like this, they are going to have very good farmhouse cheeses. You will be able to export many very soon.”
In 1993 a brand new cheese begins its life when sheep are milked at the farm to make Crozier Blue, the only sheep’s milk blue cheese in the country. Crozier will echo the success of Cashel Blue® in winning many awards over the succeeding years.
A new generation enters the picture in 2004, when Sarah, Louis and Jane’s daughter, and her husband Sergio Furno bring their extensive experience in the wine trade to Beechmount Farm, where they quickly become responsible for the maturing of the cheeses, a role they fulfill to this day.
A year later, Nigella Lawson’s best-selling book, “How to be a Domestic Goddess” is published, and features a recipe for Cashel Blue® biscuits. This is just one of many recipes by leading food writers which is inspired by Cashel Blue.
By 2011, it is is time for the latest expansion at Beechmount Farm and a new purpose-built dairy is designed and built by Louis Grubb’s brother, Brian Grubb. It is a major financial investment in the future of the farm and the business, setting a template for the future and the next generations who will farm and make cheese at Beechmount Farm.