Monday 23 July 2018

The History of Irish Butter at The Cork Butter Museum

Who doesn't love Irish butter? It's certainly my favourite Irish food. Not only do I love eating it but I really love learning about its long and fascinating history. As a matter of fact the first paper I wrote when I started my masters last year was about Irish bog butter, so I'm slightly obsessed... Maybe I'll post it here someday.

I've always wanted to visit the Butter Museum in Cork but the winter opening hours (November to February 10am-3pm) have always made it impossible for me to see it. Luckily they're open daily from 10am to 5pm from March to October and I had a little bit of time before catching my train to Midleton on my way to Ballymaloe House so was finally able to tick the museum off my bucket list.

It's a small museum which is located in the Shandon area in Cork city. The ground floor is dedicated to the tradition of butter making with displays of tools which were used to make butter, old butter wrappers and also information about the folklore around butter. There's also a part about how the industry developed in the 20th century and how the Kerrygold brand became a success (there's a short video about that which is quite... vintage). There are also butter demonstrations taking place on Saturdays and selected days during the summer at 12pm.

The first floor was my favourite part of the museum with a room dedicated to early Ireland, the importance of cattle and dairying and Irish bog butter. The highlight of that part being a bog butter dating from circa 1000 A.D on display.

Displays in the other room narrates the fascinating history of the Cork Butter Market which became the largest butter market in the world at the end of the 18th century. You learn how the market worked, how the butter roads developed in Co. Cork to facilitate the journey of the farmers to the market and how the market closed at the end of the 19th century.

I don't want to say too much, you just have to visit it yourself for your own butter enlightenment.



The Butter Museum
O'Connell Square
The Butter Museum's website