County Cork is the largest and southernmost county in Ireland, home to the city of Cork, the second-largest city in the country. It is sometimes referred to as “The Rebel County” or “The People’s Republic of Cork,” a nod to the region’s reputation for challenging authority. County Cork’s long history of rebellion dates back to the 9th Century arrival of the Vikings and was cemented by the county’s role on the front lines during the Irish War of Independence in the early 1900s.
The diverse landscape of County Cork includes everything from rugged coastline to lush countryside, dotted with quaint villages in between. The mild climate and abundant rainfall are ideal for the hundreds of family-owned dairy farms in the region, and the centuries-old tradition of distilling authentic Irish Whiskey is an industry that thrives to this day.
The region is renowned for its breathtaking cathedrals and monasteries, some dating back to the 12th Century. County Cork is also home to the famed Blarney Stone and the port town of Cobh, which was the departure point for millions of Irish emigrants over a century ago and the last port of call for The Titanic before it departed on its fateful journey in 1912.
Ireland is a country that is rich in history, where the traditions of the past influence the practices of the modern age.
The Tradition of Irish Cream
The dairy farming industry in Ireland dates back thousands of years. Temperate climate and fertile soils have long provided ideal conditions for producing milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products. The importance of dairy farming to the Irish and their livelihood is mentioned even in Early Irish Law or “Brehon Laws,” which valued milk cows as the highest form of currency.
Farmers in Cork began producing butter commercially as early as the 1700s, and it was soon one of Ireland’s chief exports. Eventually, Cork became one of the main shipping points in Ireland.
The term whiskey originates from the Gaelic phrase “uisce beatha,” or “water of life.” Though it has never been confirmed, many believe that Irish monks passed on the technique after they learned to distill perfumes in the Mediterranean around 1000 A.D. The Irish adapted the recipe to make their signature whiskey.
By the late 18th century, approximately 2,000 whiskey stills were operating in Ireland, only a third of which were legal, and by 1885, that number had dwindled to 28. The rise of the Anglo-Irish trade war and the invention of the Patent Still effectively shut down remaining production.
Whiskey distilleries are currently experiencing a resurgence in Ireland, and contemporary Irish distillers are revitalizing the centuries-old tradition through hard work and dedication. As of August 2017, there are now 18 active whiskey distilleries in the country.
Wild Atlantic Way
The family-owned farms of Five Farms all fall along the path of the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the longest coastal routes in the world. The Wild Atlantic Way follows 2500km of rugged coastline and dramatic scenery through nine counties along the west coast of Ireland, from the Northern Headlands in Donegal all the way to Kinsale at the southernmost edge of County Cork, with stunning views at every turn.
The Wild Atlantic Way provides a unique travel opportunity in Ireland, for tourists and locals alike. The dramatic landscapes give way to charming towns along the route, where visitors can explore authentic Irish arts and crafts as well as modern artisanal food.
It provides a spectacular backdrop for the dairy farms along its path. Many of the herds roam on pastures with spectacular ocean views and spend their days basking in the fresh sea air.