Cooleeney Farm

Membership approved until 1st May 2018

Business Background


Product Range
Cooleeney Cheese – creamy cheese with hints of oak and mushrooms, Dunbarra Range – mild brie in Natural, Pepper & Poppy, or Garlic & Dill, Tipperary Brie – buttery brie (150g, 200g, or 3kg wheels), Daru – semi hard natural rind cheese with hints of lemon (available in 300g or 2.5kg wheel), Smoky Tipperary Brie – creamy brie with a mild smoky taste of oak, Smoky Tipperary Orchard – semi hard cheese with a sweet hint of smoky apple, Ruby – ale washed brie cheese (200g, 1.7kg wheel), Gortnamona – brie goat cheese (190g, 1.7kg wheel, 1kg logs) and Gleann Oir – semi hard matured goat cheese with a natural rind.

Specialists In
Producing a range of award-winning handmade cheeses. The milk used in the production of cows' milk cheeses is supplied by the company's own pedigree Friesian herd, while local goat farmers provide Cooleeney with quality milk for their goats' cheeses. 





Jim and Breda Maher introduced cheesemaking to their Tipperary dairy farm in the mid-80s. Milk quotas had restricted the growth of the dairy herd, therefore research into an additional product line began.

Dairy was the main enterprise at Cooleeney farm for three generations. Given the quality milk available, cheesemaking looked like the best viable option. Breda enrolled in UCC to study cheesemaking and the first Cooleeney Cheese was introduced to the market in September 1986.

Thirty years on, the company now supplies award-winning cheese to the Irish market and exports to Europe, North America and the Gulf Region. The team at Cooleeney continues to expand its cheese range, its markets, and its future developments.

Key Sustainability Commitments

Raw Material Sourcing

Improve the housing of their animals through introducing 178 mattresses, 1 mat for every cubicle, and 2 brushes for the animals.

Increase cow’s milk sourcing from the family farm by 10%, with a view to increase this to 100% by the plan’s end.

Maintain membership of Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.

Manufacturing Processes

  • Reduce electricity use by 2.5% over 2 years, based on 2015’s use.
  • Reduce water used per tonne of product produced by 5% by 2019.
  • Recover 100% of whey waste by 2019.
  • Replace previously used blue paper towels with roller towels which are dry cleaned and reused, eliminating over 1.3kg of blue paper waste per year or 1080 rolls.

Social Sustainability

  • Cooleeney Farm gives a series of presentations to local school groups to provide information on food production and the environment.
  • The company takes on work experience students.
  • The company is involved in and supports the local community through a number of initiatives including providing sponsorship to the local running track.

Unique Selling Points

Great quality milk is produced from the lush green, peaty pastures of Cooleeney. Fully trained cheesemakers are passionate about the production process and the maturation of the range. The plant at Cooleeney has a grade A BRC accreditation, while the NPD team is always researching new products for the market.

Awards & Accreditations

Cooleeney Cheese has received multiple awards, including accolades from Blas na hÉireann, the Great Taste Awards, the British Cheese Awards, the Irish Cheese Awards, and the International Cheese Awards.

They are BRC Grade AA certified.

Case Study

Sustainability headlines

  • Reduced electricity usage from 470 kWh per tonne of cheese in 2008 to 164 Kwh per tonne in 2013.
  • Member of Smart Ripe, a new European initiative aiming to increase the efficiency of ripening cheeses.
  • Undertaking whey re-use project with goal of up to 100% re-use and/or recovery.


A desire to add value to its dairy output led to establishment of a cheese making facility on the Maher family farm in the mid-1980s and the subsequent launch of its first cheese, Cooleeney, in 1986.

Who we are

Cooleeney is a small family farm in Co. Tipperary. Breda and Jim Maher are managing directors of the cheese business, while son Pat runs the dairy farm, which operates as a separate business. Cooleeney cheeses are handmade by a team of highly experienced cheesemakers and over quarter of a century the company has grown steadily through investment and acquisition (in 1999, it purchased the Dunbarra cheese company). Having built up markets in independent stores and supermarkets in Ireland, and expanded into Europe, the US, and the Middle East, plans are underway to increase plant size by 100% in the near future, and to double output; all underwritten by a commitment to sustainability and participation in Origin Green.

Our sustainability credentials

Cooleeney’s track record on sustainability is a longstanding one and centres on conserving natural resources through the responsible use of energy and materials, and undertaking operations in a manner that minimises risk to the environment.

Enlightened animal husbandry, breeding and grassland management methods are key to this. The farm’s Friesian dairy herd is farmed on a one cow per acre policy and Cooleeney audits the farms from which it buys goat’s and cow’s milk. Slurry from the farm is directly recycled by being spread on the land to increase its fertility.

Cooleeney has achieved A Grade certification in BRC Global Standard – Food Issue 6 certification and is proud to be part of the Smart Ripe project, a new European initiative aiming to increase the efficiency of ripening cheeses by reducing energy consumption.

Origin Green in action

Since joining the programme, Origin Green has become firmly entrenched in Cooleeney’s management structure, and reports on progress are integral to the company’s bi-monthly meetings. This is fostering a dynamic attitude towards sustainability as the company builds on steps undertaken in recent years in the areas of packaging, waste management, and energy.

  • Whey is the major by-product of the cheese-making process and a whey reuse project beginning in 2014 will seek to achieve up to 100% re-use and/or recovery, possibly through a new animal feed product or investment in an anaerobic digester.
  • A change in how Cooleeney heats milk for cheese production has had a huge impact on electricity costs and consumption, reducing electricity usage from 470 kWh per tonne of cheese produced in 2008 to 164 Kwh per tonne in
  • In 2014, the introduction of better insulation for heating pipes and ripening rooms will further improve this.
  • Cooleeney farm is taking steps to improve further its animal welfare standards by introducing individual mattresses for each cubicle.
  • An intensive water audit will underpin Cooleeney’s water management strategy and the structures will be introduced to improve recycling and reduce water consumption by 5%. Employees will play an important role in reaching this target.
  • Entry to Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme will be a requirement for all dairy milk suppliers going forward.

Social responsibility

Cooleeney Farm has always endeavoured to contribute positively to the community and the company currently provides employment to 18 local people. We also regularly provide employment to students on work experience.

Community engagement will be enhanced by increased visits to local schools, communicating the importance of being a green business and, hopefully, inspiring a new generation with the story of how the business has reduced its environmental impact.

What we’re doing better

Cooleeney’s original packaging featured a timber box that, while attractive to consumers, led to an excess of packaging waste. The steps taken to simplify our packaging, while maintaining our strong brand image, have allowed us to reduce cost and waste, benefitting us, our customers and our consumers.

In 2012, 83% of our milk for production was from Cooleeney Farm. In 2015, when milk quotas are eliminated, we hope to source 10% more milk from our farm. This will result in a reduction in transport and associated costs, and enhance our already strong traceability credentials.

We encourage efficient use of car-pooling and plan our collections and deliveries to maximum the value of each journey. A recent IT upgrade saw the purchase of new computers that are certified as Green IT.

“At Cooleeney nature works with us to produce great cheese. We are blessed with peaty soil, a perfect climate, and rich green grass. Origin Green is our platform to maintain, and increase, how we repay nature. Through animal welfare, community engagement and waste reduction we have aligned our environmental targets with our strategic goals. In this respect, we maintain the quality of our product, while preserving the land and caring for the livestock that assists us in producing this quality” – Brenda Maher.

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