Lisa Gifford and her family are running a successful goat enterprise on their smallholding in Drumcong, Co. Leitrim, with a unique international twist. Lisa was born in New York to a first-generation Irish father and a mother with roots in counties Cork and Kerry. Her father’s family hails from Leitrim, and Lisa’s connection to Ireland led her to dream of owning a small farm in the country. After a successful career in nursing and a visit to Ireland in 1967, Lisa’s dream became a reality in 2016 when she moved to Leitrim Hill with her daughter, Gypsy, and her wife, Richelle. They have since established Leitrim Hill Creamery, producing artisan goat’s cheese and other dairy products.
The journey to Leitrim Hill Creamery began in January 2017 when Lisa purchased her first goats and obtained a herd number. Drawing on her experience in Serbia, she started making artisan goat’s cheese and began selling it at local markets. The business grew, and in 2020, Gypsy, Richelle, and their daughter joined Lisa in Ireland to further enhance production. With the help of local support and guidance from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), they converted an old hay barn into a creamery and officially registered as Leitrim Hill Creamery in August 2021.
Leitrim Hill Creamery produces two cheeses: Cnoc Liatrom, a pure goat’s raw milk soft cheese, and Sliabh an Iarainn, a mixed cow’s/goat’s milk cheese. The Cnoc Liatrom cheese has already gained popularity and sold out, with plans to make it available again in the spring. The creamery’s products are distributed by Sheridan’s cheesemongers and will soon be distributed by La Rousse Foods. In addition to cheese, Leitrim Hill Creamery offers pure goat’s milk fudge and a goat’s milk Cajeta caramel sauce.
The family has been actively selling their products at four farmers’ markets: Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle, Manorhamilton, and Sligo IT. They have also opened the Hidden Corner Cheese Shop in Carrick’s market square in December 2023. Lisa expresses gratitude for the support and guidance they have received from local development agents in meeting regulations and developing their business.
Looking ahead, Lisa and her family are committed to continuing with the Hidden Corner Cheese Shop and farmers’ markets. They aim to provide a Leitrim product that honors the traditions of the past, focusing on quality raw milk cheese made from grass-fed milk on pesticide-free and commercially-fertilizer-free land. They use an organic seaweed concentrate to fertilize their fields. Lisa is particularly interested in rare breed goats, such as the Irish Goat, and currently has one purebred Lough Rey goat.
Lisa and her family feel fortunate to be Irish and to have had the opportunity to return to the land of their forebears after working hard in the United States. They are proud to contribute to the agricultural heritage of Leitrim and are dedicated to producing high-quality dairy products that reflect their passion for sustainability and tradition.