About Drumanilra

The Drumanilra Farm Kitchen is owned and run by Liam and Justina Gavin of Drumanilra Organic Farm. We moved our young family back from the UK in 2012, to take over Liam’s 200 year old family farm. We came with two ambitions. We wanted to feed our family with wholesome food grown by our own hands. We also wanted to generate a sustainable and independent income for the farm by supplying produce directly to customers.

The Tonra, O’Farrell and Gavin FamiliesDrumanilra Farm is situated just outside Boyle, with fields rolling down to the Lough Key lakeshore. The name Drumanilra – Droim an Iolair means “Brow of the Eagle” and is the old townland name used on older maps.

The Tonra and O’Farrell families were originally tenant farmers to the Rockingham Estate on Lough Key. They raised dairy cattle, grew a few potatoes and oats, kept a small vegetable plot and a pig for the family. The old milking parlour is still there, beneath the granary loft of the ancient barn.  For both of us, that fast disappearing way of life held the promise of a connected-ness to land, community and wholesome food, we wanted to experience for ourselves.

Small mixed farms, rooted in strong farming communities, that feed the families that work on them and produce surplus for sale, are becoming relics of the past. Industrial food systems have left little room for the small, local producer. Could we find a road back to something like the way of life of Liam’s ancestors, and achieve a sustainable income for the farm?

Liam serving BBQ burgers in 1980sSo in 2012, we came with our three young children and set to work. We cleared the land, which had been more or less untouched for 30 years, and re-fenced. We bought breeding stock and entered the farm into organic conversion.

In the Summer of 2014, the Drumanilra Dexter Burger was born.  In the early 1980s, Liam spent several Summers touring Ireland with a group of friends.  They served BBQ burgers to hungry audiences at music festivals from an old transit van.  In 2014, our small, pedigree Dexter herd had grown enough to give us some product. So, as a first step to selling direct to customers, we bought a “Shepherd’s Hut” style catering trailer. Throughout that Summer, it was Justina’s turn to tour shows and festivals around Ireland, selling Drumanilra Farm Dexter Burgers. We were delighted to win a McKenna Food Guide Award at Electric Picnic for our efforts.

 

Winners of McKenna Guide 2014In that same year, we bought an old house in an over-grown garden plot in the centre of Boyle, next to Supervalu. We landscaped the gardens and a year later, just a few months after achieving our full organic status from the Organic Trust, the Shepherd’s Hut became the Drumanilra Farm Kitchen. Initially, we served burgers and hotdogs for take-away and to eat at picnic benches in the garden. Over the next fifteen months we renovated the old house on the plot, adding an in-door dining room, a small farm shop and eventually moving the kitchen inside too. We also developed our menu, adding breakfasts, soups, sandwiches and salads made with our own ingredients, french fries made with organic potatoes, and fantastic, locally roasted coffee.

 

Shepards hut at the ploughing championshipsBack at the farm, we experimented with outdoor pedigree pigs and poultry, built up a flock of rare breed Jacob and Shetland sheep and continued to grow our Dexter herd. We built relationships with other organic farms that could help with supply when our own product ran low, and we built polytunnels to grow our own salads and vegetables for the Kitchen.

It has been a steep learning curve, but we have been over-whelmed by the enthusiasm and support from local people and travellers from all over Ireland and beyond, for the local, organic food we now produce. We are ready, (we think!), to take the next steps on our journey…

We are now looking to the future. Our next steps include bringing the Drumanilra Farm Kitchen to one or two nearby towns and finding a new home for our mobile Shepherd’s Hut; extending and consolidating Drumanilra Organic Farm and streamlining our enterprises there; adding an educational tourism element to the farm and encouraging visitors interested in finding out more about our food; building a profit-sharing network with other local organic farmers interested in supplying the Kitchens. Above all, we will be continuing on our journey to raise our children to know and respect good food and where it comes from, to respect the animals and the environment that feed us, to take seriously our responsibility as keepers of that environment, and above all to know when something tastes good!

If you are interested in getting involved in our project, either as a member of our team, or by supplying our project with your own produce, then please do get in touch by clicking the button below.

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Meet the amazing team behind Drumanilra!