One of the first wonderful things I discovered whilst living in Ireland is also one of the most important things a girl needs when she moves to a teeny-tiny, medieval village in new country far, far away from her family, friends, cat and career. This all-important saving grace would be: ICE CREAM. And I don’t mean just any ice cream. Ice cream that will take your homesickness and melancholy away. Ice cream that will sooth your aching, grieving heart. Spend time with you. Be your friend. This ice cream has to be top notch, crème de la crème, or for me, at least as good as Sebastian Joe’s, Izzy’s, Mad Martha’s or any beautiful custard ice cream from Door County. It must be creamy and rich, but not too sweet; really fresh and light, but not full of air. I was very lucky to find it within a week of moving over. This Irish ice cream is extraordinary and it is called Murphys. Murphys is so entirely perfect and delicious that it immediately became my BFF.
Now, just so you know, R and I both basically had a love affair with Murphys Ice Cream. We did everything together: day trips to Dingle to visit the café, sourcing it shops in Limerick and other venues, always asking at restaurants if they had Murphy’s on offer for dessert. We’d stock up from Ivan’s so we’d always have some on hand when the urge set in for a few scoops of (me)honeycomb or (him)chocolate. (the Brown Bread flavour is my close second, yummmm.)
So, imagine my complete and utter joy when Kieran Murphy of Murphys Ice Cream sent me a message saying that he thought this blog one of the best he’d seen in a long time. A tear welled up in my eye. And then I immediately went to Ivan’s for a couple pints of Murphy’s to celebrate with.
Irish brothers Sean and Kieran Murphy were born in NYC and started Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle, County Kerry in the year 2000. Their goal was to make the best ice cream in the world. Over the next two years the business grew, the ice cream became more refined, and customers from outside Kerry became more insistent on having Murphys Ice Cream closer to home. In 2005, Murphys Ice Cream opened a second shop on Main Street in Killarney. In a bid to support the indigenous breed and because the milk is so wonderful, Murphys Ice Cream uses milk from the magnificent Kerry cow. In 2008, the “Book of Sweet Things”, composed of gorgeous Murphys ice cream recipes was published. Murphys Ice Cream has won numerous awards and accolades, but what they’re really interested in is exciting and delighting their customers. An interest that really does shine through.
Kieran was kind enough to let me interview him for this post so I’ve asked him a few questions about being an expat and just what he loves about Ireland.…
1. What was it like moving to Ireland after growing up in America.. What was(is) the greatest thing about being here? (and for me personally, what were the biggest challenges?)
I moved to Ireland originally because I became tired of the US – specifically the one-sided, all-consuming attitude toward work, and having work define you so much as a person. Here, I have always felt life was fuller and more varied. Since I grew up with Irish citizenship, moving here was quite easy, and I always felt welcome. The challenges have been the same anytime I have moved – make new friends, and find your way into the community. The only other big challenge has been coping with the gloomy weather!
2. What is Murphy’s relationship with Irish farmers and producers?
We try our best to support farmers and food producers as best we can. In terms of farmers, we are buying in local, free range eggs as well as our direct link with the farmer supplying us with our Kerry cow milk. We also try to buy what we can as flavours – fruits in season, local honey, etc. For food producers we helped set up Blas na hÉireann – the Irish Food Awards to highlight the excellent produce about the place, and we do our best to always plug Irish foods in the press.
3. What Irish dishes do you love?
My aunt made her own Irish soda bread, which was a big source of excitement in our family growing up, since it meant a special occasion (served with jam and cream). I think, however, rather than the dishes, what really makes me drool is the quality of our raw ingredients here in Ireland – amazing fish, best dairy in the world, spuds, certain fruits and vegetables, etc. Of course, we can’t forget the excellent whiskeys and stouts as well
4. What are some Irish traditions or sensibilities that you love..
I love that traditions are alive and well in this part of Ireland – Wren’s Day, Nollaig na mBhan, traditional music, naomhóg races, Lunasa, the Irish language, etc. Sensibilities would include ability and need to have fun, balance in life, community spirit, less social stratification than elsewhere (at least in rural areas).
5. Fave places in Ireland that you would recommend visiting?
Kerry, of course!!! Specifically I love Dingle, including the Blaskets, Killarney National Park and all of our amazing landscapes. Outside the Kingdom, I’m very partial to Donegal, Connemara, and the Antrim coast. Slightly off the beaten track, I’d suggest Clonmacnoise, Killaloe, Ardmore, and all the archeological treasures in the Boyne Valley. There are so, so many wonderful places around Ireland, though, and a short list is very hard!
6. Would you ever move back to the USA?
I certainly am not planning on it, but I never count anything out because the moment I do, life takes me in that direction! There’s a lot I love about the US, and I could be happy there. However, I’m happy very here.
7. Anything else new in 2010 for Murphy’s that you’d like to share?
2010 is our 10th year in business, so we hope there will be lots of celebrations, specials, and fun. We’d like to expand a bit this year, but so much will depend on how the year progresses. Most important to us is to use our 10th Anniversary to spoil our customers, who have been so loyal and supportive over the years. Now, if we could only arrange a bit of sun for the summer…
The “Book of Sweet Things” is available to international customers online through Mercier Press. You can also find more info on Murphys Ice Cream at www.murphysicecream.ie or check out Kieran’s blog at www.icecreamireland.com