6 Best Irish Ice Creams – The Inside Scoop

The cream of the crop — the best Irish ice creams to cool you down this summer

There’s nothing quite like the first ice cream of summer. It tastes like lazy, sunny days and long, hazy evenings. 

But ice cream is no longer just a humble 99 or block of raspberry ripple. Fun flavours, fresh ingredients, and free-from options are all part of the growing artisanal Irish ice cream scene, which was kicked off by the Murphy brothers in 2000.

Since then, an ice cream revolution has swept across the island, with small-batch producers and parlours popping up everywhere.

Looking to cool down this summer with the hottest ice cream around? Here are six artisanal ice cream makers dealing in delicious dairy.

Bueno, Tullamore, Rathcoole and Castleknock

Bueno sprung to life as a pop-up during the height of the pandemic. A testament to its popularity, there are now three locations across Ireland. You can treat your taste buds at these locations to its silky, soft-serve whipped ice cream. 

Bueno, is one of the best Irsih ice creams because it is made from scratch every day on-site. The base is the finest Irish milk and cream from the award-winning Village Dairy in Carlow. Once you taste whipped ice cream made from fresh, raw ingredients, you’ll realise not all ice cream is created equal. You might have ninety-nine problems, but your 99 ain’t one.

Bueno is known for its fun, playful concoctions, including its scrumptious sundaes and marvellous milkshakes. Dairy decadence is the theme with menu items like the toasted s’moreo sundae with Oreo crumb, and marshmallow fluff and chocolate sauce. You’ll also find milkshakes blended with locally made salted caramel and topped with real dairy cream. You can also make your own toothsome creations with all manner of fixins. These include fizzy cola bottles, breakfast cereal, and a rainbow of colourful confectionary. 

So, if you are looking for a sacchariferous selection of soft-serve sundaes and shakes, check out Bueno in Tullamore, Rathcoole and Castleknock.

Fabio’s Ice-cream, Sligo Town

Fabio learned the basics of gelato making in his home city of Florence. Gelato is different from ice cream in that it is made with a lower percentage of buttercream. It is also churned slower and with less air and served at a slightly warmer temperature. This makes gelato softer and gives it a denser, creamier mouthfeel with more pronounced flavours and aromas.

Using the same traditional methods, Fabio makes hand-churned gelato in his Sligo town café. Flavours change daily, but the base of all his gelato is Irish milk. Other ingredients are local, seasonal, organic or wild. In spring, he loves using Irish rhubarb. In summer, he uses wild, foraged elderflower and basil. He also sources the finest Sicilian pistachios and Tonda Gentile Hazelnut from Piedmont. It is for his use of local, wild ingredients that I think Fabio makes some of the best Irish ice creams.

Fabio uses gelato as a canvas to tell the story of his home country and his adopted one. His marriage of Irish and Italian ingredients is a match made in heaven.

Fabio’s flavours are as fun as the man himself. They include mascarpone cheese with caramelised figs, toasted walnuts, and banoffee pie. “I enjoy experimenting with classic food combinations, turning savoury combinations into ice cream flavours,” says Fabio. “There is always something new on the way, like the Spanish Armada flavour, which is linked to Sligo heritage and made with almond and saffron”. 

However, to get a taste of what Fabio is all about, he suggests you try a two-scoop cone with Bull’s Blood (dark chocolate and orange sorbet with cayenne pepper) and WhiteHag Session IPA sorbet. According to Fabio, “You will cry like a baby!

For gelato that will make your eyes water, visit Fabio’s in Sligo town.

Gino’s Gelato, Nationwide

Anthony Murphy and Jonathan Kirwan, both second-generation ice cream men, grew up touring the country in their dads’ ice cream vans. Their obsession with creating the very best ice cream led them to Italy, where they learned the art of gelato making from the masters. 

In 2008, they founded Gino’s using the skills honed in Italy and combining them with the best Irish ingredients. The secret to Gino’s great tasting gelato? “All of our gelato is made fresh in every store each morning in small batches using 100% organic Irish milk as the base”, Anthony tells us.

When it comes to flavours, Gino’s is well-known for its wide selection. However, according to Anthony, Gino’s signature flavour is pistachio, which “is mind-blowingly delicious. So much so that we have beaten the Italians in global competitions!”

Not ones to rest on their laurels, Gino’s master gelato makers work hard behind the scenes to create delicious new flavours.

“We have lots of new flavours this summer including Greek yoghurt, peach sorbet, coconut sorbet, our brand-new Belgian chocolate recipe and so many more! We are also bringing in lots more vegan and dairy-free options to our menu including a whole new sorbet range and some other surprises.”

For a taste of Italy without having to get on a plane, take a trip to your local Gino’s.

Glastry Farm Ice Cream, Newtownards, Co Down

Glastry Farm on the Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland has been in the Taylor family for six generations. The ice cream is made with milk from the pedigree Friesian herd that munches on the grass and clover just metres from the production area. This contributes to a low carbon footprint, and the production process uses 75% renewable energy and virtually zero waste.

Will Taylor and his son launched Glastry Farm Ice Cream in 2007. The first flavour was vanilla bean, but the range has since expanded. The local landscape and seasonal ingredients like fruit, herbs and honey influence flavours. There is nothing artificial in any of Glastry Farm’s products.

Most of the products are also naturally gluten-free, and the selection of sorbets is suitable for vegans as they are dairy and egg-free but still lush and full of flavour—the Pear Pear Sorbet won bronze in the non-dairy category at Blas na hEireann, the Irish National Food Awards.

If you want to try a tub or two of Glastry Farm Ice Cream, you can find it in freezers across the island in Eurospar, Donnybrook Fair, and select restaurants, hotels, and independent food shops.

Scúp, Wexford Quay

Former Wexford hurler Willie Devereux set up Scúp in 2014 with his mother Siobhan. Together, they make luxurious gelato, handcrafted in small batches using the finest natural ingredients.

It all starts, of course, with the cow. “Irish dairy produce is highly regarded as some of the best in the world, so that’s where we start, with Irelands amazing milk and cream,” says Scúp.

Other ingredients are sourced locally and internationally, including fresh Wexford strawberries, Sicilian Bronte pistachios, and Madagascan vanilla. The mixture is churned into creamy, smooth, flavoursome gelato. Apart from the quality raw ingredients, Scúp gelato’s luxuriousness comes from its rich texture—the recipe was developed by an Italian master gelatiere.

Sorbets are also made using local fresh produce. For example, the frozen yogurt sorbet is made using Killowen and Mr Jeffares Blackcurrants. 

Scúp supplies Ireland’s finest hotels and restaurants, and the flavours reflect these high-end clients. Lemon and basil, bergamot and Campari, gin and Champagne dazzle diners’ tastebuds.

Fortunately for us, Scúp has opened a gelato shop on Wexford Quay where we can dine out on gelato and sorbet. For those who love soft whip, Scúp has created a 99 made daily using fresh milk and cream. 

So, for the low down on high-class ice cream, visit Scúp on Wexford Quay.

Spooney’s, Lahinch, Co Clare

Fancy a few scoops by the seaside? Head to Spooney’s in Lahinch for some fresh, small-batch ice cream made with raw Irish milk. Award-winning chef Denis Vaughan of Vaughan’s Anchor Inn in Liscannor opened Spooney’s in February 2021. Spooney’s is a family affair with his wife and sons also working in the business. 

Spooney’s ice cream is unique because of its ‘cow to cone’ ethos. Each morning at 6.30 am, Spooney’s collects raw milk from Lacey’s farm in Liscannor, mere minutes away. Spooney’s then pasteurizes the milk before churning it into rich, delicious ice cream using special Italian ice cream machines.

A cacophony of ice cream flavours tempts customers in the playful parlour. Vanilla, pistachio, caramel, banana, fresh strawberry, or chocolate—whichever you choose, the ice cream is smooth, soft, and luscious.

You can have your ice cream served in a crunchy waffle basket or cone or slurp it as a milkshake. The Super Sundaes are also super popular. You can customise these with toppings such as salted caramel, popping candy, marshmallows, Daim, Kinder Bueno, and a whole lot more.

Whether you want a scoop, sundae or shake, check out Spooney’s in Lahinch.

So there you have it, some of the best Irish ice creams in my humble opinion. But did I leave your favourite off the list? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are hungry for more blog posts about Ireland, here you go…

For example, here are 10 things to do with kids in the Phoenix Park Dublin.

Similarly, here is my foolproof recipe for traditional Irish scones.

You might also like my list of the  7 restaurants worth the drive from Belfast.

Similarly, you might also like my blog post on the Fethard Town Walls Heritage Trail.

If you are visiting Ireland, take a look at my many blog posts, for example things to do in Ireland.

Furthermore, if you are looking for a place to stay in Ireland, I highly recommend Glenlo Abbey and Longueville House.

Additionally, click here to learn about the traditional Irish foods we use to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Finally, click here to learn about Easter in Ireland: Traditions, food, and festivities.

Lastly, do you like this blog post about the best Irish ice creams? If so, please share it with others.

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