The enormous efforts made by the Calvey family and the many farmers on Achill who produce mountain lamb with its unique taste, quality and production system are hugely impressive, Mairead McGuinness, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament said as she launched the new season Achill lamb on Saturday, July 4th.
The MEP visited the island and toured the family slaughtering plant and butcher shop where every week lambs from their own and other farms on the island are prepared for the marketplace.
“A huge effort has been made to highlight the unique product which is Achill Mountain lamb and to get the message to the consumer about its unique taste and quality,” she said.
“The Calvey family has invested in marketing the product to the point where consumers at home and worldwide are enjoying it. Through their website, http://calveysachillmountainlamb.ie/ consumers can order lamb and have it delivered to their door, knowing its provenance and quality.
“On Saturday we witnessed the skill of the master butcher, Gráinne Calvey as she displayed how the lamb carcass is butchered into its many parts and explained how each cut can be cooked. Master chef, Garry O’Hanlon, of Viewmount House, Longford, demonstrated the versatility of lamb and the many dishes that can be produced using lamb as a key ingredient.
“As a master chef he values very highly the product produced on Achill and supplied under the registered trade mark of Achill Mountain Lamb.”
McGuinness stressed that for regions like Achill, of which there are many around Europe, identifying unique products and bringing them to market is absolutely crucial.
“Maintaining farming in more remote and isolated regions is a challenge and one which we must tackle. A living farming community in these regions provides the bedrock for the important tourism sector. We cannot have one without the other.
“Visitors want a unique authentic local experience, they want to meet people who can tell that story and make their holiday real and interesting.
“The story of Achill is told through its people and the many challenges they have faced and continue to face. It was a pleasure to unveil a special plaque to recognize the resilience, resourcefulness, strong determination and close community spirit displayed by Achill Women throughout the generations in their overcoming many challenges and struggles.”
The MEP congratulated the farmers who produce the mountain lamb and also care for the environment of the commonages.
“The carcass presented on the day was produced by local farmer John Lee and it was an excellent example of how tradition and knowledge come together to produce a high quality product in tune with the natural environment.
“More and more we’re coming to understand the importance of sustainable food production systems. The sheep synonymous with Achill are an example of that quest for sustainability,” she added.