In 2015 The New York Times ran a story titled ‘In Ireland, Milk Chocolate Reigns’ And while as the title suggests there was a focus on our home grown chocolatiers, praise was equally lauded upon the source of our decadent dairy: the 1.1 million grass-fed cows in Ireland.
Though perhaps it’s time the American periodical paid another visit, because the Irish are putting this “milk that’s more cream-colored than white and tastes especially rich and luscious” to other great confectionery causes too; namely ice cream.
Whether or not the yanks return the country’s best ice cream producers deserve recognition, so we’ve churned up 15 of Ireland’s best ice cream parlours that in sunshine, hail and almost definitely rain, serve unforgettable scoops, sorbets, and soft serve.
Brothers Seán and Kieran Murphy have been churning ice cream in Dingle since 2000. Made simply from milk, lots of local cream, free range eggs, and organic sugar, the team at Murphy’s add bags of flavour by tempering chocolate, infusing alcohol, and scraping vanilla beans by hand. Their flavour experimentation has yielded some strange successes, like Blue Cheese and Caramelised Shallot, and some inevitable failures, Smoked Salmon Ice Cream, but they’ll give anything a go, even if it’s customer request for Green Pea and Mint – it wasn’t great, apparently. They now have stores in Dublin and Galway too.
Their wacky experimentation yielded a unique customer favourite; Caramelised Brown Bread.
While looking to their homeland for the recipe, owners of Casanova Gelato, Cork’s ‘only real Italian gelato’, have embraced their new home using Irish milk and local fruit where possible. At their shop on George’s Quay they produce over 43 completely natural gelato flavours in rotation, including ranges suitable for vegans, vegetarians and those with a dairy intolerance. Instagrammable additions to the menu include Frozen Hot Chocolate with amaretti biscuits, the Casanova Croffle, and a sundae served in a trendy mason jar. They insist that fresh gelato is a healthy food, that can be enjoyed every day. Well, if the experts say so…
Their brilliantly blue Spirulì gelato may look artificial but its 100% natural, its hue coming from ‘superfood’ blue algae.
A Dun Laoghaire institution since the 1950’s, you can hardy call yourself a Dubliner if you haven’t tried a Teddy’s. On a warm summer day, the wait in the lengthy queue might be tortuous, but soon after you get that cone heaving with old-fashioned whipped ice cream in your hand from their hatch you’ll want to do it all over again.
Teddy’s classic vanilla 99 whipped ice-cream cone has an almost legendary status.
This distinctively red and blue branded ice cream parlour made an instant impact when it popped up in the foodie heartland of Ranelagh, and with their fresh gelato, made on site, they have continued to attract people’s attention. The tasty trio of delights that converge at Scoop, gelato, crêpes and coffee, can now also be found in the city centre on Aungier Street. Keep an eye out for their funky vintage Citroen HY convertible at private events too.
They drew attention recently for their Avocado gelato, but we’re sticking to our favourite; Fererro Rocher.
‘Made Upstairs and Served Downstairs’ is the motto of Ballybunion favourite Sundaes Ice Cream Parlour, aka McCarthy’s. You won’t find anything of the soft serve or long frozen variety here, and instead the scoop style ice cream made from scratch by owner Joanna McCarthy freshly is the central ingredient for an indulgent menu of sundaes, knickerbocker glories, banana splits and more.
Although this seaside ice cream parlour is a family favourite, their Bailey’s is so boozily brilliant they might just tip over into the adult-only category.
Not a bricks and mortar ice cream parlour just yet, but Ireland’s first hand rolled ice cream has been such a success at various markets that a standalone store is in the pipeline. Founder Caolán Cullen brought back from his travels in Asia the flash freezing technique that creates a uniquely creamy texture. Adding Irish produce to the mix Artic Stone‘s eye catching cups have captivated ice cream lovers with both the quality of the ice cream and the theatre of each creation. Arctic Stone currently rolls from Marlay Park, Rathfarman on Saturdays to Peoples Park, Dun Laoighre on Sundays, and is available for both indoor and outdoor private events nationwide.
For their Banoffee Pie flavour, they chop up and mix through real pieces of banana, toffee and biscuit in front of you, before scraping into scrolls and topping with more banana, nuts and chocolate sauce.
The first Morelli’s ice cream parlour was established on the cobbled streets of Coleraine in 1911. Over four generations of Morelli’s later this Northern Irish institution has expanded with parlours in Portrush and Portstewart, as well as to Broadstairs on the south coast of England, Harrods Department Store in London, the Dubai International Mall and the Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo, as well as scoop franchises throughout the country.
Sometimes simple is best, and you can never go wrong with Morelli’s orginal vanilla made using double cream and butter from the world-famous Ballyrashane Creamery on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.
Located on Wine Street just off O’Connell Street in Sligo town, Fabio’s is a little ice cream parlour run by local legend and Florence native, Fabio Boni, who makes his gelato fresh on site and is always open to flavour requests. Complete the Italian experience with a pizza slice and an organic Italian coffee, both also served here. Now if only they served the beverage their street is named after…
Fabio’s ‘Bulls Blood’ sorbet is just as dark and dangerous as it sounds. Made with dark chocolate, orange juice and lashings of cayenne pepper, this vegan vice is as fiery as its namesake.
Scrumdiddly’s, which has parlours in both Donabate and Dun Laoghaire, specialises in the kind of overflowing, foodporn-eque, topping laden ice cream creations that tend to clog up your Instagram feed. Those toppings include jelly babies, malteasers, fizzy cola bottles and more; added to an array of ice cream and sauce options Scrumdiddly’s boast a mind-boggling 2,400 flavour combinations.
The Scrummy Tub; which you can fill, top, and dribble to your exact preference, and even stick in whole oreos and bars of kinder bueno.
Happiness is homemade, according the the sign outside sea-front ice cream parlour Mammy Johnston’s in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. All exclusively homemade, owner Neil Byrne’s serves genius gelato flavours like Raffaello, Gingerbread, and Irish Atlantic Dillisk. They excel at seasonal specials too, and have in the past scooped Guinness and Creme Egg flavours, and for St Patrick’s Day there was ‘Pots of Gold’, strewn with chunks of golden honeycomb.
MJ’s classic Honeycomb gelato scooped best in its flavour category at the 2016 Sigep Rimini trade show in Italy, and those Italians know their gelato.
Proprietor Tina McCormack serves her ice cream from the cutest of cottages at the end of Skerries harbour. At Storm in a Teacup you can choose from a simple selection of ice cream, some homemade, or get fancy with a whipped ice cream and a smattering of toppings of your choice. Either way, you can enjoy your tipple sitting on the pier with views of the bay.
Anything smothered in their homemade Ferrero Rocher chocolate sauce, which you can buy by the jar.
No seaside town is complete without a great ice cream parlour, and the picturesque yachting harbour of Kinsale comes up trumps with a fun fifties style ice cream bar, Sunday’s Ice Cream Bar. With 18 flavours of homemade ice cream to choose from as well as sundaes, shakes, brownies and other desserts, why not order a shake to share, settle into one of the retro booths and reenact the famous soda shop scene from Grease – just resist throwing it in your date’s face if things don’t go so smoothly.
It’s a toss up between their Raspberry Kiss and Rocky Road Sundaes.
Café Linnalla exclusively serves ‘Linnalla Pure Irish Ice Cream’ is made on the farm of Brid and Roger Fahy sing milk from their own shorthorn cows. To instill the unique flavour of the Burren into their ice cream, they use ingredients that they grow themselves, such as blackcurrants, rhubarb ,apples, and forage others, like gorse, blackberries, sloes and hazelnuts. Their cafe in New Quay Co. Clare, is at the start of walkers mecca the Flaggy Shore, so you can choose to set off with a cone in hand, or sit back and enjoy the views of Galway Bay.
Their classic mint chocolate is a winner, but keep an eye out for seasonal specials.
Idaho Gelato opens at the beginning of June each year and serves ice cream from a window hatch on the side of a graffitied wall of the much-loved cafe. Open every Friday and Saturday from then until the end of the summer, each order starts with one of their striking red ice cream tubs and locally made Irish vanilla ice-cream but after that feel free to customise with their range of house made toppings; think peanut butter and jelly, salted macadamia brittle or perhaps single estate dark chocolate and gold leaf – and proprieter Mairead Jacob promises that this summer there will be even more ‘mad ideas’ on the menu.
Idaho’s soft serve ice cream sprinkled with one of their most eye-catching toppings: candied maple bacon ‘crackerdust.’
Another Cork contender, Fantastic Falvours in Youghal is as consistent on ‘best of’ lists as it is with churning out creative flavours of ice cream. Owner Miceál O’Hurley has long counted ice cream making as a hobby, and since 2013 he has been sharing his creamy creations with the public. Since then he has tested out over 42 flavours, including seasonal specials like spiced harvest pumpkin and often comically titled treats such as Delicious Donald Trumpalicious Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream. Not happy with just selling his own, Miceál also teaches ice cream making every Sunday.
Miceál has been perfecting the recipe for his Captain Morgan’s Rum & Raisin flavour since 1983, and is always sure to add a generous portion of rum soaked raisins.
Erica grew up with a baker and confectioner for a father, and a mother with an instinct and love for good food. It is little wonder then that, after completing a law degree, she went on to do a Masters in Food Business at UCC. With a consuming passion for all things food, nutrition and wellness, working with TheTaste is a perfect fit for Erica; allowing her to learn and experience every aspect of the food world meeting its characters and influencers along the way.