Comeragh Mountain Lamb
The rugged terrain on the Comeragh Mountains in Co. Waterford yields a rich abundance of grasses, herbs, wild flowers and natural spring water for its inhabitants, Comeragh Mountain Lamb, to enjoy.
It’s this nutrient rich diet that differentiates William Drohan and Aidan Dunwoody’s lamb from its lowland counterparts.
William, a sixth-generation sheep herder, had for years supplied his lamb to the larger meat factories and was always aware of their unique and delicate flavour.
However, the defining moment for Willie to create a stand-alone brand for his lamb came as he stood at the foot of the Comeragh mountains lambing his Scotch Blackface ewes. Looking around at the untamed and bountiful habitat they occupied reinforced just how inimitable his lambs were and this presented Willie with a wonderful opportunity to showcase their uniqueness.
Along with his brother-in-law Aidan Dunwoody, they established Comeragh Mountain Lamb in 2008 and thus began the journey that sees Comeragh Mountain lamb served at the country’s best food festivals and prepared by chefs in some of Ireland’s finest restaurants.
One of the first ringing endorsements of Comeragh Mountain Lamb came from renowned chef Michael Quinn. Michael prepared and cooked two lambs at the 2008 Terra Madre Festival, a movement that champions and celebrates slow food principles. The reaction to the fayre was positive in the extreme, not just from the festival goers but from some of Ireland’s top food-writers too. The feedback gave Willie and Aidan the confidence to further develop the business and forge new relationships with retailers, traders and customers.
At the outset of the business venture, Willie and Aidan sold Comeragh Mountain Lamb at farmers’ markets throughout the county. However, their confidence was further buoyed when they began supplying Ardkeen Quality Food Store, an ardent supporter of quality artisan food producers.
Comeragh Mountain Lamb was getting noticed and validation of its unique flavour and texture came when the company was announced as winner of the Eirgrid / Euro-toques Ireland award in 2011. The following year Willie and Aidan picked up the Irish Restaurant Association Local Food Hero award – a further endorsement of the company’s dedication and commitment to quality.
Mountain lamb has long been regarded as the poor relation in lamb consumption, however Comeragh Mountain Lamb has proved that the rugged territory produces the finest, most natural-tasting lambs. Today Comeragh Mountain Lamb is stocked in a wide range of quality food stores, artisan butchers and is lauded by the finest chefs in the country.
It’s not hard to see why it is garnered such a worthy reputation. Not only does Comeragh Mountain Lamb have health benefits, as it is naturally higher in Omega 3 which are essential to overall good health, it is the most natural lamb around. Dry aging for ten days only enhances its delicate and succulent flavour and it’s fully traceable from foothill to fork.
Willie intends to continue to look after existing customers as well as aiming to supply a number of top end restaurants, artisan butchers and food stores nationwide. There are future plans to export Comeragh Mountain Lamb, a move intended to bring the unique harvest of the Comeraghs a little further afield.