Return to family home in Cork sparked the foundation of small cider company

Daniel Emerson, of Stonewell Cider, talks to us about his small cider company, memories of mackerel fishing off Oysterhaven, and hopes for his own orchard - in our weekly 'Person to Person'
Return to family home in Cork sparked the foundation of small cider company

Daniel Emerson of Stonewell Cider. Picture: Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Daniel Emerson. Born to a mum from Timoleague and a Swiss-born father, I ended up moving around a good bit when I was at school.

Once education was over I worked my way up the corporate ladder in print, marketing software, and media companies. Hard work, but it meant I got to travel the world and meet some intriguing people.

I returned to the family home in Cork in 2007 and suffered what my wife Géraldine called a mid-life crisis setting up a small cider company called Stonewell in our garage. Since 2010, it’s what my life has been invested in. Real cider makers are all mad and I’m slowly becoming accustomed to their ways!

Where were you born?

London.

Where do you live?

Nohoval.

Family?

A long-suffering and supportive wife, Géraldine, and our three spectacular children, Aliénor, Séraphina, and Colm.

Best friend?

I have a group of four people with whom I have absolute trust. 

I value their insights, candor, and friendship; which I know will see me to my deathbed.

Earliest childhood memory?

Pulling mackerel over the side of the boat fishing with my uncle Diarmuid by the Sovereign Islands off Oysterhaven.

Person you most admire?

It changes, but Barak Obama for the age in which we live, whilst I do not agree with all he says, is articulate, intelligent, reasoned, conciliatory, and able to consider different points of view without descending into confrontational hyperbole. We need so much more of this example.

Person who most irritates you?

Politicians who benefit from our democratic system but fail to develop a strategic vision with which to lead their country and use courage and tenacity to achieve it. What we have seen all too much of across most western democracies in the last 18 months.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

An individual that has had experience running a business. It would provide valuable grounding before exposure to the financial theory and civil servants and would help create a more logical and common-sense approach to policy. Not sure that’ll ever happen!

Where was your most memorable holiday?

The last one before Covid – 20th Wedding Anniversary in Barcelona – what a great city. Géraldine and I really wanted to stay a few more days.

Favourite TV programme?

I don’t have a TV but a good Netflix binge is a great stress reliever. 

I’m pretty taken by Lupin but will revisit Breaking Bad for the rush.

Favourite radio show?

I must confess I have switched to Spotify.

Your signature dish if cooking?

I love cooking so choosing is difficult. Maybe Beef Carbonnade in winter and onion and feta cheese tart in the summer, followed closely by venison burgers on the barbie.

Favourite restaurant?

I’ve missed them all! We are blessed in the area where we live with some truly fantastic restaurants. We try to get out to them by rotation but the go-to for a Friday evening when we’re tired would have to be Finders Inn. Aside from the convenience, a warm welcome is guaranteed.

Last book you read?

Big Sister Little Sister Red Sister by Jung Chang. A fascinating account of three very different sisters who were instrumental in the formation and establishment of the modern Chinese state.

Best book you read?

Civilisation by Niall Ferguson, an interpretation of how western society evolved to where it is today.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Led Zeppelin greatest hits, a little edgy but good nonetheless.

Favourite song?

Where the Streets Have No Name – U2

One person you would like to see in concert?

Mavis Staples – still belting them out in her 80’s!

Do you have a pet?

Two dogs, Tawny and Saskia, are lovable but messy on occasion!

Morning person or night owl?

Definitely morning – early bird catches the worm (allegedly!).

Your proudest moment?

Anytime my children succeed.

Spendthrift or saver?

Bit of both, though I spend way too much on things related to cider!

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

BROADBAND!

What makes you happy?

Knowing that my customers are happy with the quality of my product, that I’ve done nothing to annoy my wife and I’ve finished going through the emails in my inbox.

How would you like to be remembered?

Someone with a good sense of humour, straight, honest, who endeavoured to do right and gave at least some happiness.

What else are you up to at the moment?

Acquiring a small still to make apple brandy and possibly plant an orchard of our own, if I can but find the five to 10 acres to do it. Enter Richard Harris!

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