The monks have been farming at Glenstal, in the foothills of County Limerick’s Slieve Felim mountains, since they arrived here in 1927. In the past, as was common practice in Ireland, the farm was a mixture of enterprises - dairy, beef, poultry, pigs, some tillage and horticulture, but nowadays we have specialised in a dairy herd of around 130 cows. The milk is sold locally for processing into whole milk powder.
Ireland’s maritime climate - its mild wet winters and cool wet summers - is perfect for growing the grass that makes up the bulk of our cows’ diet. The mild weather, even the rain, suits the cows too: they prefer to graze outdoors for most of the year, coming inside only for the winter. As is the case with most Irish dairy farms, the pattern of milk production here matches the natural cycles of the year, and the cows are milked from early spring till late autumn, when grass growth slows down. They rest indoors through the winter months, getting ready for the coming season. Our cows’ breeding, and their grass-based diet ensure that the milk they give is rich in nutrients, and we receive a premium price for its high quality.
The monastic community is committed to maintaining its tradition of farming, both as a source of income for the monastery and as a sustainable use for the land. In the past decade, we have invested in improvements to the land and farming infrastructure. With a view to the future, we have recently made the decision to further develop the dairy farm. As well as building up the herd, we will be modernising the milking plant and building additional winter housing for the cows. These improvements will set the monastery farm on a sure footing for the future.
Please note that the farm lands and farmyard are out of bounds for visitors.