glenisk teams up with m&s

glenisk is now available at marks & spencer stores across ireland!

Glenisk is now available at Marks & Spencer stores across Ireland! Pick up some classic Glenisk favourites including our Bio organic low fat natural yogurt 500g, Organic greek style natural yogurt 500g, Organic whole milk 1 litre, Organic low fat milk 1 litre & our delicious Organic fresh cream 500ml.

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a lonely donkey
befriended a goat

The story of how a lonely donkey, an accidental animal sanctuary and an astute and progressive supermarket buyer transformed one Irish family business.

In the summer of 1995 – one of the hottest on record – Glenisk MD Vincent Cleary made regular trips from his home outside Tullamore to Dublin. His father, Glenisk founder, Jack Cleary, had suffered a heart attack and was being treated in the Mater Hospital. On one of the many journeys, he noticed a donkey tethered to the side of the road and as the days passed, he became increasingly concerned for the animal’s welfare. The patch of grass within the donkey’s reach was becoming sparser and sparser and water was running out. No-one appeared to be taking care of the animal and its distress was becoming evident.

Unable to identify its owners and having contacted animal charities and the Gardaí, Vincent decided to take matters into his own hands. He hitched a trailer to his car, collected the donkey and brought it home. In the following weeks, the donkey’s health improved. Vincent and his wife, Kestin, named her Juliet. She was healthy but a little restless. Reading up on donkeys, Vincent discovered that they are a particularly sociable animal. He called the local SPCA and asked if they had company for Juliet. The charity had a couple of goats looking for a new home. The goats duly joined Juliet and the animals got along very well.

The two goats got along particularly well and very soon, kids arrived. Then more kids arrived. In time, it became necessary to milk the goats to keep them comfortable and this was a daily task shared by Vincent and Kestin.

Many months later, during a somewhat protracted meeting with a retailer in Dublin, the less-than-impressed buyer noticed that Vincent kept sneaking glances at his watch.

“Am I keeping you?” he pointedly asked. Implausibly, Vincent explained that he needed to get home to milk his goats. This piqued the buyer’s interest who recalled a customer looking for goats’ milk and some research he’d uncovered on the benefits of goats’ milk for those with sensitivities to dairy.

“Can you get me goats’ milk?” he asked.  

“Give me a year.” said Vincent. “I’ll give you six months”, was the reply.

Six months later, Glenisk introduced its first Goats’ Milk product to the market. 25 years later, Goats’ dairy accounts for 20% of Glenisk’s sales and the brand’s goats’ yogurt is exported as far afield as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Smoothies of frozen blueberries and banana with yogurt. Blueberries and strawberries in a white cups and a banana in the background on a wooden table.

a mild flavour
and surprising

sensitive to cows’ milk?

Some of us are sensitive to the protein in cows’ milk. Not everyone experiences it in the same way. For example, you may find that a glass of cows’ milk doesn’t agree with you but a cows’ milk yogurt or cheese is fine. Sometimes very young children will have a sensitivity that they grow out of as they move into the toddler years. .

Because the protein structure differs to that of cows’ milk, many people with sensitivities find that they tolerate goats’ milk very well. At Glenisk, we regularly hear from customers who believe that adding goats’ milk to their diet helps to alleviate the symptoms of some common problems including digestive complaints, asthma or eczema.

If you are suffering with any of these conditions, it is always advisable to seek advice from your GP, specialist or dietitian. If you decide that you’d like to give goats’ milk or goats’ yogurt a try, get in touch with us at [email protected] and we’ll be glad to organise a complimentary voucher so your first one is on us.

A common misconception is that goats’ milk or goats’ yogurt will have a very strong ‘goaty’ flavour, more akin to that of goats’ cheese. In fact, our milk and yogurt have a mild, creamy flavour and many of our customers choose it simply for its delicious taste.

While we don’t make dairy free milks at Glenisk, we do produce goats’ milk! It’s a mild and delicious alternative to cows’ milk, often suitable for those who are sensitive to cows’ milk. In contrast with milk alternatives, goats’ milk contains a single ingredient – milk and only milk!

mild and creamy,
goats’ milk
is a taste revelation.

a delicious alternative.

A common misconception is that Goats’ Milk or Goats’ Yogurt will have a very strong ‘goaty’ flavour, more akin to that of goats’ cheese. In fact, our milk and yogurt have a mild, creamy flavour and many of our customers choose it simply for its delicious taste. Goats’ Milk and Goats’ Yogurt are delicious as drinks and snacks in their own right but also work beautifully as an ingredient in all of our recipes.

Try some of our favourites:

something about
goats always
interested me

The Boons family farm is situated outside the village of Lorrha, in North Tipperary. The 57 acre farm was originally part of the Redwood Castle Estate and sits on the borders of three counties – Offaly, Galway and Tipperary. 

Home to Jan, Monique and their daughters, Julia and Kayla, and Freddie (the family dog) is a beautiful old farmhouse, lovingly restored. The farm has 200 goats and about 50 kids; The Boons breed mostly Saanen goats, distinctive for their dramatic white coats, and also a small number of the French Alpine variety. Each goat produces about three litres of milk per day. 

From Holland originally, Jan and Monique met at agricultural college and dreamed of starting their own farm. Jan was brought up on an organic dairy farm in Holland and had long harboured a plan to work with goats. After much research, the Boons settled in Ireland in 1999 and began to supply Glenisk with fresh goats’ milk.

why goats?

“Something about goats always interested me”, says Jan. “They are independent, lively and dynamic animals with a very distinct temperament. For me, goat farming is a business but I’d also describe it as hobby. You can’t work seven days a week at something if you’re not passionate about it.” Jan believes it is more challenging to work with goats than other animals and he sees it as a partnership approach: “Goats react badly to stress so it’s important to work with them, to ensure their living conditions are comfortable and that their routines are upheld.” 

Demand for goats’ milk has increased in recent years, with growing anecdotal evidence that it may be beneficial for those with asthma, eczema and digestive complaints. At Glenisk, we are always amazed at the letters we receive outlining the way in which switching to goats’ milk has apparently transformed health and alleviated symptoms. Many people are also surprised at how mild and creamy fresh goats’ milk tastes.

good food on the farm

While Jan is mainly responsible for the goats on the farm, Monique is kept busy with other projects. As well as part-time work and caring for the girls, she grows her own organic fruit and vegetables and raises chickens. She is also a fantastic baker as we discovered during our visit when she treated us to some home-made strawberry cheese cake, created with goats cheese.

The girls, who are fluent in both Dutch and English (as well as diligently learning Irish), also help out on the farm, but it competes with lots of other interests. As well as school, Julia and Kayla are busy with extra-curricular activities including sports and especially horse-riding. 

The Boons have also recently renovated one of the old farm buildings which is now a self catering cottage. Available to rent throughout the year, the cottage allows you to escape the hustle & bustle and enjoy life on the farm.

nature is a key
part of my life and
why I’m interested
in organics.

From Dundrum, County Tipperary, Patrick O’Brien is one of Glenisk’s organic farmers. Patrick manages a herd of over 70 milking cows on more than 150 acres of organic farmland in Tipperary, where his love of farming was established at an early age. Patrick comes from a farming family, growing up in Tipperary surrounded by his parents’ dairy herd (and the odd trio of hens and family dogs). Patrick’s parents and cousin are also involved in farming. As a kid, Patrick’s favourite part of farm life was seeing the new calves after they were born and all the excitement of what the new additions to the herd would be like. As an adult, Patrick began farming his own beef enterprise but transitioned back to dairy after completing a course in dairy management at Reaseheath College in England. He says dairy farming is always interesting and he enjoys it more. Nowadays, Patrick (also a qualified teacher) is busy running his organic dairy farm, teaching, and studying. Patrick is very thankful to his parents for their help in developing his farming enterprise, and is honoured to be carrying on the tradition.

Patrick converted his farmland to organic production about four years ago, amid concerns about the impact that artificial fertilizers and sprays were having on his land and his animals. By eliminating these artificial inputs, Patrick has reduced pollution and improved the health of his soil, herd, and the surrounding environment. Patrick believes that organic is a more sustainable way of farming, and making the switch helped him reduce the chemicals and pollution on his family land. Animal health is his biggest priority, and as an organic farmer, Patrick must “focus on prevention and the animal itself.” Patrick has chosen specific breeds that are well suited to his type of farming and finds that animal health is better because he focuses on specific breeds for health, including crossed Friesian, Jersey, Shorthorn, and Brown Swiss cows. Patrick has also seen a difference in his cows’ choice of feed. Because the ditches and hedges around his land aren’t sprayed with chemicals, Patrick finds that his cows like to eat different plants as they move from pasture to pasture, seeking out a variety of natural vitamins and minerals.

Every day you learn

In organic farming, says Patrick, the main key to being successful is thinking ahead. Because there are no synthetic chemicals allowed in organic farming, soil management and grassland planning become paramount. Patrick says he always has a backup plan, and that he has learned a lot since converting to organics. In fact, he is part of a discussion group with other farmers to share best practice and he enjoys learning from other farmers in the area. When asked what his favourite part of farming is, Patrick says it’s still the same moments he loved as a kid – meeting the calves. For Patrick the excitement of seeing what the new calves will be like is only matched by the glee of his nieces and nephews who visit the farm to meet the new-borns.

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