County Kerry is undoubtedly one of the most stunning and vibrant regions in Ireland.
The Irish motto of the county is ‘Comhar, Cabhair, Cairdeas,’, which translates to ‘Cooperation, Help and Friendship.' The blue and white mountains in the center of the County Kerry symbolise Kerry’s mountains — which is home to the highest in the country. Carrauntoohil stands at 3,049ft, followed by the second and third tallest respectively, Beenkeragh (3,313 ft) and Caher (3,284 ft).
However, as beautiful and interesting the landscape is, we’re here to talk about the food! With its fertile green land, and healthy dose of rainfall, the local produce here is known for its excellent taste and quality.
Prepare to salivate over these local Kerry exports, as we celebrate the local produce and dishes that sum up perfectly the taste of the region.
A taste of County Kerry
Ring of Kerry Quality lamb
You’ll spot sheep and lambs from the sky the moment you land in Kerry Airport, so yes, many local dishes contain them! Carnivores are bound to be happy with the fare on offer. Generous, juicy cuts of Irish steak, or one of my favourites, locally sourced lamb.
For the best selection in the county, opt for the Ring of Kerry Quality lamb. It’s produced by 18 sheep farmers who live in the Ring of Kerry, who sell their product directly to the customer. Ring of Kerry Quality lamb is hung for a minimum of 7 days to mature and is assured by the Bord Bia, the Irish food board.
There are many reasons why Ring of Kerry Quality lamb ranks higher than other produce. For one, the lambs are mostly grass-fed. The group of farmers regulate the feed that is given to the lambs. This is to reduce the effects that some animal feed can have on the overall taste.
The lambs are fasted and rested before being brought to slaughter. While the ending may not be pleasant, this process reduces the stress on the animals, and also helps to enhance the meat’s colour. With Ring of Kerry Quality Lamb, you can be certain you’re buying a product that you can trace from farm to fork, with every order cut to customer request.
Fish and seafood
Its location by the lakes and coast means that County Kerry is blessed with fresh fish and seafood. If you love oysters, be sure to try the Luxury Native Flat Oysters from Glenbeigh Shellfish. We tried several during our time there, and they’d only been caught 20 minutes prior to being put on display. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Kerry also has fish aplenty, namely salmon, and which tends to be sustainably sourced. When it comes to tasting the best salmon of any variety in the region, you need to visit Quinlan’s Kerry Fish. The Quinlan family opened its first shop in 1960, and is still managed by Michael Quinlan and his 3 sons.
They import the freshest catch from the west coast of Ireland around the world, and now also have 3 seafood bars. Their wild Irish oak smoked salmon has won Gold at the UK Great Taste Awards, so too has their organic salmon. An important part in the fishing process, is that Quinlan’s organic salmon comes from one of the world’s most exposed fish farms.
Here, the strong tidal currents and high waves sweep across the site, bringing the freshest water (A1 quality) to its salmon.
In case you needed more validation about the quality, Quinlan’s organic salmon farms are certified organic. This means they’ve gone through a strict, high-standard certification process. The organic salmon is fully traceable with certifications from many organisations, including The Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA), and Bio Suisse in Switzerland.
This family-run brand has 5 fish shops in total, as well as seafood bars and a salmon smoker! Needless to say, you’re in very good hands with this family and their knowledge about fish!
I’ve lost count of all the great cheeses we tried in Killarney during TBEX, but they were all sinfully good. With many cows and sheep in the region, you can only expect the best quality produce. From cheddar to brie, your tastebuds will be spoilt for choice.
If you like your cheese in a traditional farmhouse style, you’ll love Wilma’s Killorglin Farmhouse Cheese. Wilma Silvius makes a Dutch Gouda style cheese from her own herd of cows, and using natural rennet. What’s more, she also produces a variety of flavours from gouda with cloves, or with garlic. Yum.
Another popular cheese shop, this time from a Swiss lady who moved to Dingle, is the Little Cheese Shop. Owner Maja Binder’s been making cheese since the age of 17, and moved her trade to Ireland, where she’s been selling cheese for over 15 years.
Maja makes the award-winning cheeses during spring and autumn, using local full fat raw cows’ milk. She leaves the cheeses to mature in a 200-year-old stone storehouse, letting the natural flora of the building add a unique flavour.
There are 2 sides of the fence when it comes to the verdict on black pudding. This blood sausage, which contains pigs blood, easily divides those who love it from those who loathe it.
If you do love it, black, and white, pudding is very popular in Ireland. And in County Kerry, if you want to try the best, head to Sasta. This husband and wife team behind the shop won a prestigious food award in Normandy, France, so you know it’s going to be good!
For a very local, and popular, black pudding whose shop dates back to 1916, head to Annascaul. The original recipe has been passed down the generations of the Ashe family. To this day, Thomas Ashe makes the famous black pudding by hand on the Dingle peninsula. From the onions and breadcrumbs, to the beef suet, everything in Annascaul Black Puddings are locally sourced, and without any additives or preservatives.
With plenty of green and fertile land, Ireland’s full of great produce just waiting to be eaten. Take for instance a farm shop in Waterville called An Siopa Feirme. It’s so proud of its local produce that it only sells products from Kerry. From Kerry sourced cheese to meats and dairy, you’re safe knowing that you’ll find no imported brands here.
John O’Sullivan’s the fifth generation of growers to farm Sliabh Luachra strawberries. Producing some of the country’s juiciest strawberries, he cultivates the fruit on 4 hectares of land on Currow, County Kerry.
If you love your fruit and veg more organic, you need to visit Manna Organic Food and Store in Tralee.
They have a farm shop on the Island of Geese, and only sell produce from what they grow on their 25-acre farm.