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OP: A Little Bit of Butter

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by Peter Foynes, editor

Nach told the story: “My wife and I were in Ireland and while down on the southern coast made an absolutely stunning find. There in the entrancing city of Cork we came across a museum devoted exclusively to the subject of BUTTER.” 

That’s not utterly crazy, of course. Most everyone has heard of Irish butter. The product of a cool damp climate, well-fed dairy cattle, and a dairying tradition that goes back three or four thousand years, this is butter that is rich, soft, aromatic, and frequently even piquant from the use of ancient aging processes.

Everything that might be said about this much-loved, seemingly simple milk product may be seen and experienced in the extraordinary Cork Butter Museum. Its range is impressive. From archaeological discoveries of churns and fermenting vessels to the ins and outs of a modern industry, vital to Ireland’s economy, this is a top-level institution, well served by a devoted staff and the best in modern museology. 

Happily, the museum also has a publishing program, and we are fortunate enough to have been able to get our hands on an attractive book printed in a very limited edition in 2007 and no longer available. 

Assembled by the museum’s director Peter Foynes, A Little Bit of Butter is a small format volume consisting of a dozen or so butter-wrapper designs expertly reproduced from the original printing blocks in the museum collection. The endpapers are from Kerrygold Irish Creamery Butter, and the frontis is a tipped-in sheet from Irish Free State Butter. These are accompanied by anecdotes, song lyrics, and other texts related to butter. 

Oblong volume, 5” x 6-⅞”, bound in butter-yellow cloth, issued without dust jacket. We have managed to acquire a small handful of numbered Limited Edition of 500 copies in Fine condition. No other editions were produced.

For anyone who may be particularly interested in this subject, we also carry another museum publication, still in print. This is Butter in Ireland From Earliest Times to the 21st Century, edited by Peter Foynes and other authorities. It is a collection of pieces on archeology, history, dairy science and technology, sociology, economics, and even an interesting study of so-called “bog butter.” It is a quality paperback, printed on excellent heavy stock and generously illustrated in color and black and white. $65

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