Learn the secret behind the great taste of Irish butter along the banks of the River Lee.Tourism Ireland

It’s already been proven that Americans just can’t get enough of Irish butter, with wide-favorite Kerrygold last year becoming the third best-selling butter in the US. However, did you know that such is the love for the Irish dairy goodness that butter has become one of our best tourist attractions?

The search for the secret behind the perfect buttery taste leads American visitors to Ireland to the Cork Butter Museum, the best place to learn all about the culture of butter-making from ancient Ireland up to the present day. There they discover how Kerrygold, our most famous butter brand, came to be.

Read more: Americans can’t get enough of Kerrygold butter! Sales hit record high

The museum is in what was once the Cork Butter Exchange, formerly the largest butter exchange in the world. Tens of millions of pounds worth of butter was traded annually from Cork City, from the Cork Butter Exchange, during the 19th century. It was exported as far Australia and India until the exchange’s closure in 1924.

Shandon at night. Credit: Tourism Ireland

Shandon at night. Credit: Tourism Ireland

Dairy and cattle farming has always been one of Ireland's most important industries and thanks to our mild climate which produced great grass growth, Irish cattle have always been naturally fed and this is the key reason Irish butter stands out. The Irish butter industry began to achieve success in the early 1700s, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it began to grace dinner tables the world over.

The Cork Butter Museum is located in the Shandon area on the north side of Cork city, amongst a nest of tiny streets, some of which are still cobbled. The building dates from 1849 and is located near St. Anne’s Church. The church is known for its clock tower which can be seen from all over the city and is locally known as the “Four-faced Liar” as each of its four clock faces tell a different time.

The Four-Faced Liar. Credit: Tourism Ireland.

The Four-Faced Liar. Credit: Tourism Ireland.

Just beside the museum is the Firkin Crane building, built in 1855 to weigh “firkins” (a Danish word for 80lbs) of butter on a “crane.” The unusual rotunda building is now used as a performance space. This area was also once home to the largest Shambles (open-air butchery) in Ireland.

The museum features fantastic exhibitions taking guests on a tour through the history of butter production, from dairy cattle farming to the commercial butter trade, and the museum's pièce de résistance a container of butter believed to be over a thousand years old, perfectly preserved by the bog in which it was found.

The Firkin Crane Building. Credit: Tourism Ireland

The Firkin Crane Building. Credit: Tourism Ireland

Irish folklore contains large dollops on butter and butter-making and this small museum makes great use of the legends as heartedly as we do a slab of Kerrygold butter on a slice of bread (or the new trend of Kerrygold in your coffee!).

The museum is a celebration of how a small cottage industry has grown into a global business.

 

Read more: Would you try ‘Bog butter’ from 3,000 BC?

Located close the River Lee and putting you in great spot to explore the rest of the city, Cork Butter Museum is also a steal at only $4.50 for adults, $1.60 for children over 12 and completely free for children under 12.

The River Lee running through Cork City. Credit: Tourism Ireland

The River Lee running through Cork City. Credit: Tourism Ireland

If you have the chance, make sure to visit in time to catch a butter-making demonstration.

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