Irish Farmhouse Cheese Tasting in the Rockhill Cheese Cellar
Stepping in to the Cheese Cellar at Rockhill, you’ll first be surprised by the dramatic change in the air about your face. There’s a special genius in the centuries-old building design when one room can feel so utterly different to all the others. Cross the threshold and you move from warmth and gently circulating zephyrs into stillness and chill – you’ll have to catch your breath! Next, it’s a feast for all the senses – the distinct aromas, the textures, the smooth and rugged forms of Ireland’s most varied, natural produce. You’ll taste and discover the rich story of Irish artisan cheese making – you’ll appreciate individual makers’ dedication and see their places and personalities coming through in the distinct flavours and styles of what they create. You’ll come to understand the incredible influence of the Donegal landscape and climate on our food – the salt of the Wild Atlantic swept to shore… soft rains on sheltered coves… the warm Gulf Stream coaxing lush growth from rich soils to the north… sweet, bog filtered water… hard, high, herb-speckled mountains shielding great green valleys and the dairy herds that graze in them… fresh, deep lakes and pure crashing seas. And what are the results of all that when it comes to cheeses? You’ll soon see – your tastebuds are certainly in for a smoky, creamy, nutty, aromatic treat…
Wild Foraging & Culinary Experience:
The North West’s pre-eminent horticulturalist Gareth Austin will lead you on a Food Foraging Trail across the estate, introducing you to delicious, wild, safe food that will set your taste buds dancing. Wrap up warm and wear good shoes for what is sure to be an intriguing and entertaining exploration of our wonderful woodlands and lilting hills. If you could do with a pair of wellies, just ask! And when you return with your haul of edible treasures to the comfort of the house, our House Chef will school you in some ingenious ways of incorporating them into your cooking. Then, all that remains to do is to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Irish Dance Lesson:
You may not have heard of the Waves of Tory, but by the end of your dance lesson at Rockhill you’ll know all about them! A céilí dance inspired by the tumbling seas off Ireland’s most remote inhabited island, this Donegal classic might quickly become part of your repertoire after you first whirl and spin through some of the basic steps that traditional Irish dance is made up of. You’ll discover that there’s a particular dance style that responds to the distinctive Donegal fiddle tradition – it bounces and crackles like flames from a fire. And you’re sure to be warmed by the experience – an energising and enjoyable night stretches ahead.
The Beat of the Music:
We are an island people, yet our music and dance are enjoyed all around the world. Try your hand at creating the rhythm that makes our traditional sounds and movement so compelling, with a lesson in playing the Bodhrán. An ancient framed drum with a skin made from goat hide, “the deafener” (as its name is given to mean) requires rather deft stick technique should you hope to set the pace for some galloping tunes! Our expert musicians will soon set you on the right track to perfecting the hold, the swing and the strike.
Experience Our Ancient Gaelic Games:
Enjoy a unique and authentic experience in a county where Gaelic Football inspires an almost religious fervour. Whether your code of choice is football or hurling, you’ll get hands-on with the sport that’s at the heart of community here – learning the rules and the traditions and seeing if you’ve got what it takes to compete!
Rockhill Hike To Health:
Yoga, hiking, good food and relaxation are the pillars of our Rockhill Hike To Health Program. We believe the heart of a healthy lifestyle requires discipline and it is no secret this is not easy. We have created an environment where you can focus on yourself while you embrace these elements. Without the distractions of everyday life you will see and feel changes that will be with you when you return home. Join us for an invigorating active vacation in Donegals coastal hills, mountains and National Park.
Visit a Goat Farm:
The McKnight family operate a goat farm a few miles from Rockhill, where they produce goats milk for our Soft Goats Cheese. Take a trip to their farmstead, where you will meet the family (and their animals!) and experience the daily routine of work on an Irish farm.
The Emigrant Experience:
If you’re part of the Donegal Diaspora, or indeed part of the wider Irish diaspora, we would be delighted to tailor an Emigrant Experience that will chime with your particular connections to the region and the country. Perhaps your research into your heritage has enlivened an interest in the craft of knitting; the life of a Donegal fisherman; or in what life was like in a traditional Donegal cottage: we can plan the tour that will take you into the heart of your ancestors’ world. We can arrange your schedule to include visits to important sites such as the incredible Newmills Corn & Flax Mills; Doagh Famine Village or Glencolumbkille Folk Village. We can help facilitate your genealogical research with the Donegal County Museum and the Donegal County Archive Centre. If you’re just getting started with exploring your Irish roots, check out www.donegaldiaspora.ie and www.irishgenealogy.ie for a host of helpful resources.
Pull Your Own Pint:
There’s a skill and a thrill to pulling the perfect pint of Guinness – and you’ll get great satisfaction when you learn to pour your own in Kelly’s Croft Bar at Rockhill House. You might be surprised, but there are a lot of elements that have to come together – the angle, the pace, the time to settle, the topping up, the exact depth of the head… Luckily, you’ll be learning from the best and your own pint of plain is sure to be one you’ll really savour.
Irish Coffee Making:
It’s one of the trickiest drinks to perfect, but when it’s done well, the dark and decadent Irish Coffee can really make your evening! There are many variations on this classic recipe but we think the Rockhill Irish Coffee is the ideal formula. Join us in Kelly's Croft Bar to become versed in the tricks of the trade – you’ll achieve the perfect balance in flavours that ensures the wonderful Irish whiskey enjoys a starring role, you’ll ensure the contrast in temperatures between the coffee and the thick cream that makes it so irresistible to sip, and you’ll mix the exact concentration of sugar that will ensure the cream can float beautifully on top. And then… you’ll sit back and enjoy it, of course, in the relaxing and sociable surroundings of Kelly's Croft.
Since all experiences are bespoke we require advance notice ranging from 24 hours to 7 days depending on activity.
The cost of all activities, including all applicable taxes and service charges, will be communicated in advance.