The Glens of Antrim are home to a legion of myths and legends. There’s the one about Ossian climbing up the Grey Mare’s Tail, there’s the Fairy Hill in Glencorp and you’ll know about the Giant and his Causeway. Of course, every story needs a great storyteller and the Glens have a few of these as well. One of them is Adrian Morrow.
Brought up inside the walls of the Glenarm Estate, Adrian is steeped in its long history, surrounded by its forest and fields, its river and the wide open sea–bay at the mouth of the glen. Home to the Earls of Antrim for more than 400 years, it’s gathered some tales of its own.
But Adrian’s stories are of more recent vintage. He learned his trade alongside his father, who spent his working life on the estate. Adrian’s college education was important but he learned a lot more from his mistakes. In putting his theories to the test on the farm, he discovered that the accumulated wisdom of experience was a more valuable teacher.
He acquired his experience carefully and became the Estate Manager, overseeing hugely successful events – over 30,000 people arrived for the summer festival of 2006 – restoring the run–down Walled Garden to its present beauty and managing the mixed use farm.
Cattle and sheep have long dotted the landscape of this glen but it was a conversation with some visitors, here for the shooting, which inspired a new direction for the farm. Continental cross–bred cattle were gradually replaced by traditional British shorthorns, with the objective of ‘farming for flavour’, as the estate’s strapline puts it. By 2008, the estate had begun the process of converting to organic status, building up its shorthorn herd alongside a flock of 250 ewes.
The inspired choice of shorthorn beef, viewed with some initial scepticism by other breeders, was based on its eating quality. Renowned for its marbling and flavour and enhanced by its organic clover–based diet, it was an immediate success with the estate’s shooting parties. Now, the challenge was to take it to a much bigger market.
And that’s where Peter Hannan came in. Adrian cajoled him into visiting the farm to see the herd. Peter was impressed with what he saw but it was the extraordinary taste of the beef that sealed the deal. The subsequent partnership has been hugely successful, with demand far outstripping supply. Aged in Hannan Meats’ Himalayan Salt Chamber, Glenarm Organic Shorthorn has gathered a host of awards and plaudits from food critics everywhere.
That’s as much as you need to know to make you seek out this unmatchable meat. But it’s only a tiny bit of the Glenarm story and, if you ever get the chance to hear Adrian tell you the other bits, grab it. His self–deprecating wit illuminates every tale, all delivered in a broad Ulster–Scots tongue, which makes you pay close attention, when you’re not creased up in laughter. Adrian’s stories take time but the rewards are worth every second. A bit like his beef, then.