Eamonn wins gold for Glenarm lamb at major Irish cuisine awards


Eamonn and his family own Glenarm Redspark Lamb, a company specializing in slowly and sustainably raised lambs on one of the oldest family farms on the rugged hills overlooking the Irish Sea in County Antrim.

“We are absolutely delighted,” he says. “Winning first-attempt gold at Blas, the island’s largest and most competitive catering competition, is extremely encouraging, especially as we look to add value to our lambs for operators. retail and restaurant business. “Feedback from the panel of expert food judges at Blas shows that we are clearly on the right track with the ready-to-cook foods that we have developed. “

Glenarm Redspark was among 22 local companies to win gold in this year’s competition, which attracted around 3,000 applications from food and beverage companies from virtually every region of the island.

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Pasture in the picturesque setting above the village of Glenarm

Some 70 awards were won by local businesses in the annual competition. In addition to the 22 gold medals, 18 silver and 22 other bronze medals were won by a wide range of companies from many parts of Northern Ireland. Gold medals were won by smaller businesses, from beef to cider and bakery to sauces.

Redspark’s switch to commercial lamb also caught the attention of German discounter Lidl Ireland who recognized the potential of lean, sweet and rich farmhouse lamb by including an original product in one of its Kickstarter programs. popular for small businesses.

In addition to a line of premium cuts for retail, the company has already successfully introduced boxes of meat for sale online and plans to introduce packaged ready meals such as lamb tagine, curry, stew and shepherd’s pie under the distinctive Glenarm Redspark brand.

“Our goal is to create a distinctive brand that is supported by structured and targeted marketing initiatives for our lamb,” says Eamonn, who is responsible for the 180’s farm’s lamb breeding and processing business. acres and in particular his 200-person Black Face herd. and Dorset sheep. Brother Ronan takes care of the pedigree of the Limousin cattle herd of the farm.

Eamonn Matthews tending to his sheep and lambs in the Antrim Hills

Eamonn, a graduate of an agricultural college in England, has extensive experience in raising sheep and lambs for over 20 years and is now the driving force behind the attractive new branding and diversification into dishes prepared for consumers.

The company, he continues, has also been encouraged to move forward with its dishes prepared by celebrity chef Paula McIntyre putting lamb on its menus. Paula, for example, cooked with lamb in one of the episodes of her hugely popular Hamely Kitchen on BBC NI Television.

Eamonn explains that the exercise and feeding of foraging in the hills experienced by lambs produces “lean, tender and succulent” meat.

The flavor of many varieties of sweet herbs and heather, combined with the fresh and pure sea air, produces lamb which is an ideal ingredient for food lovers looking for ‘top quality meat. sustainably raised with a heritage, full traceability and provenance ”.

Sustainability runs deep on the farm and has long been the basis of the family approach to farming.

“We only breed low intensity sheep breeds that are suited to our hilly terrain and require minimal intervention,” explains Eamonn.

His flock of Blackface and Dorset sheep instinctively know how to feed this unique landscape which has been grazed for hundreds of years and which means the soil does not require fertilizer.

Glenarm Redspark’s approach reflects the company’s recognition of a developing market trend towards sustainable, low-carbon local products. The innovation behind the business has been recognized with a silver award as part of the UK Sheep Innovator of the year as part of the Farmers Guardian 2019.

Virtually every type of food and drink from local producers has won gold, silver or bronze awards in the important Blas na hEireann competition, the largest on the island of Ireland and influencing also the purchasing decisions of major retail and restaurant operators.

Now entering its 15th year, Blas is the brainchild of Dingle Irish food entrepreneur Artie Clifford. While most of the local winners of this year’s awards were small producers and artisans, several large companies including Dale Farm, Belfast,

Northern Ireland’s largest farmers’ cooperative and leader in cheddar cheese; Karro Foods in Cookstown, a specialist in pork products, including the famous Cookstown brand of pork sausages, ham and bacon; and Tandragee’s White’s Oats, a subsidiary of Fane Valley Co-operative in Moira, and one of the largest porridge producers in the UK and Ireland.

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