The Butter Museum is a unique institution, celebrating one of the great success stories of Ireland, the butter trade. Located in the historic Shandon area of Cork city, the story begins with the central role of dairy culture in the Island of Saints and Scholars. The Museum goes on to describe the internationally important Butter Exchange in nineteenth century Cork, the traditional craft of home butter making and the modern success of the Kerrygold brand. In the course of this story, the commercial, social, and domestic life of Ireland is recalled.
Beginning with the origins of dairying in Ireland, this gallery display deals with the Irish practice of preserving butter in bogs, the importance of milch cows in medieval Ireland and cattle raiding.
The entire ground-floor gallery displays traditional butter-making
equipment. The development of the dairy industry in the twentieth century is also explored and the story is brought completely up-to-date with an audio-visual presentation on the industry since the early 1960’s. Throughout the Museum the displays are enhanced by clear and informative panels covering all aspects of the dairy culture in Ireland.
A gallery in the Museum is dedicated to the culture of cattle and dairying in Early Ireland. In this society, cows were not simply a source of valuable foods, such as butter and cheese, but also the measure of wealth and standing.
The gallery features a keg of thousand-year-old butter (seen here) and accompanying panels on the food and society in the Ireland of Saints and Scholars.
This part of the Museum deals with the development of Cork as a city trading on the Atlantic in the 1700’s and the development of the Cork Butter Exchange, which became the largest butter market in the world.
Seen here is a firkin or barrel, typical of the type in which farmers would have brought their butter to the Butter Exchange. The development of the Cork Butter Exchange, Cork’s international trade in butter, and the ‘butter roads’ are examined in a separate gallery. The Butter Museum is happy to answer any queries in relation to the development of the Cork Butter Market, the butter trade etc. from students and those involved in project work. A full educational service is available to schools – click here for further info.