Belfast Telegraph

Creamery is blessed by cheesemaker deal

By Margaret Canning

A cheese-making couple from Co Antrim are celebrating a cracking good job after selling their business to Fivemiletown Creamery.

Damien and Susan McCloskey set up Causeway Cheese Company 11 years ago but said "the time was right" to sell.

Their two-man business produces hand-made waxed cheddar cheese in hexagonal form to resemble the basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway.

Damien McCloskey said he and his wife had "mixed feelings" about the sale, which will see production shifted to Co Tyrone.

"We founded it and it was our baby but it's nice to see it going on to a new owner. We have worked with Fivemiletown before and it's always been good. We are very happy to see it going to them and our products will continue on with them."

The couple will take six months out with Mr McCloskey focusing on his day job of contract-rearing dairy heifers - though they have ruled out setting up another food company.

Their cheeses, named after townlands in Loughgiel, are sold in hampers through companies like First 4 Hampers and Baskets Galore and stocked in some independent retailers. One features the north coast speciality of dulse seaweed.

Mr McCloskey said: "My wife and I have been everything in this company from directors to dishwashers - we did it all. But we are at a stage where we would have had to double our production. But Fivemiletown had said to come to them if we ever had a notion of selling, so the offer stayed.

"We're looking forward to working with them over the next few months to get the transfer complete and it will be nice to see our products going to another level."

Fivemiletown produces handmade soft cheeses and cheddars for customers including grocery multiples in Britain, the Republic, Europe, the US and Asia.

The price of the deal will be disclosed at the Fivemiletown Creamery AGM. Its managing director Mervyn McCaughey said: "Causeway is an ideal fit for us. Its focus on handcrafted cheese is in line with our own commitment to offer customers premium cheeses that are handcrafted from high quality milk from local dairy farms."