I was very sad to hear of the untimely passing, the other day, of David Tiernan, one of life’s true gentlemen, and the maker of Glebe Brethan, one of Ireland’s finest farmhouse cheeses.
I interviewed David, who was in his mid 50s, a few months ago for a piece on Irish farmhouse cheese which appeared in the Sunday Times last December. He was warm, helpful and generous with his time, a dairy farmer first and foremost, whose life, for the last 38 years he said, had been, simply, ‘wake up and milk the cows.’ He had a real connection to the land and the food that came from it and, for three or so months during the summer, would, in addition to milking his Montbéliarde cows and working in the yard, make two 45kg wheels of glorious Comté-style raw milk cheese a day. He loved the pleasure that his cheese gave to others and – never short of an opinion on the issues facing farmers and small scale food producers – he was familiar to many in Irish food circles, not least when it came to opposing the proposed ban on the sale of raw milk here.
When asked in an interview published in the Irish Times last April to describe himself in six words, David said simply “just very happy to be alive.” Sadly, that is no longer the case and the Irish food landscape is all the poorer for it.