Irish gourmet ice cream gets the cream
Once the locals tasted the product, the higher price was not an issue. The Irish, who return again and again to indulge in the gourmet ice cream, comprise 60% of the total business. There is no explanation needed for the visitors from the US, France, Italy, and other countries who make up 40% of the clientele.
With the success of Murphys Ice Cream shop in Dingle, expansion was inevitable. The production area at the back of the shop was transferred in 2003 to a purpose-built factory outside of town, within view of the grazing cows that contribute to the success. Besides the Murphys, the factory employs two full-time staff and produces ice cream to supply leading restaurants and shops all over Ireland. A second Murphy-owned shop opened in 2005 on Main Street, Killarney, and recently two more opened shops in Dublin at 27 Wicklow St. and Temple Bar Square.
All the Murphy shops, outfitted with distinctive blue and white décor in the style of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, offer 16 different flavors of ice cream. Flavors range from banana with chocolate shavings to rum raisin, chocolate whiskey truffle, brown bread and Guinness, chocolate coffee bean crunch, white chocolate and rosewater, caramel honeycomb, and cookies and cream, made with Oreo cookies. For summer, there is a new and distinctive sea salt ice cream with a “sweet taste of the sea.” For chocoholics, pure chocolate ice cream is always available, as is a vanilla, made with vanilla beans in a rich custard base, baring no resemblance to the supermarket flavor.
Dairy-free choices include raspberry, lemon-lime, mango or pink champagne sorbet. The shops also offer a variety of sundaes such as a “Titanic Banana Split,” made with banana, three scoops of ice cream, warm chocolate sauce, toppings and cream. Sean hints that they are working on a few sugar-free options for the future.
With the ground broken for high-end ice cream in Ireland, the Murphy brothers have also attracted competition (both Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs sell their products in Ireland), and several other local Irish firms have begun producing handmade ice cream including Linnalla Pure Irish Ice Cream at New Quay, Co. Clare (www.linnalla.com), and Corrin Hill Real Dairy Ice Cream at Fermoy, Co. Cork (www.corrinhill.ie).
Now that Sean and Kieran Murphy have put Dingle on the map as Ireland’s “ice cream capital,” Sean spends time traveling around the country, selling the products to restaurants and shops in Cork, Galway, Clare, Wicklow, Kildare, and Northern Ireland. Kieran maintains a company web site (www.murphysicecream.ie) as well as the “Ice Cream Ireland Blog” (http://icecreamireland.com). The Blog provides tidbits of information about ice cream plus recipes and news of interest to ice cream lovers all over the world.
Patricia (Pat) Preston has written 23 travel books (15 about Ireland). Her latest book, Ireland Travel 101 (http://www.IrelandTravel101.com) won 1st Place in the Travel Guide category of the North American Travel Journalists Association annual competition this year. Visit Pat’s web site (http://www.IrelandExpert.com).