Tributes have been pouring in today from friends of Ballymaloe founder and ‘the mother of modern Irish cooking’, Myrtle Allen, who died earlier today aged 94.
The Taoiseach and Tánaiste were among hundreds of people, from local farmers and fishermen, to former cookery school students and Michelin-star chefs, who have paid tribute.
Leo Varadkar said he had the pleasure of dining with Mrs Allen once in Ballymaloe and was among several people to describe her as a “true lady”.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said she was a "beautiful person who had a pioneering influence on Irish hospitality, ambition and food".
“When she and her husband, Ivan, opened a restaurant and hotel more than 50 years ago they could hardly have imagined that, not only would they put Ballymaloe House on the map, but also onto supermarket shelves throughout Ireland and the world,” he said.
“Myrtle Allen’s success is down to her hard work, high standards, sheer determination and overwhelming pride in Irish produce. Many other successful Irish brands have followed the route she pioneered.”
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin praised Mrs Allen as a champion of Irish cuisine.
“Myrtle Allen kick-started Ireland’s food renaissance and will go down in history as a champion of Irish cuisine.
"Myrtle was a visionary who was never shy about championing the best of Irish cuisine. Myrtle was very involved in the local food market scene in Cork and was a committed supporter of Irish artisan food products.
“My thoughts go to her family of whom she was incredibly proud of.”
TV chef Neven Maguire, who runs MacNean House and a cookery school in Cavan, described her as “one of the greatest ambassadors for Irish food”.
“I had the pleasure to interview her and meet her many times - I always admired and looked up to her,” he said.
John and Sally McKenna, authors of the McKennas Guides, said she was one of "the most important individual creative talents in the history of the Irish state".
We are deeply saddened to note the passing of renowned chef Myrtle Allen.
Myrtle, whose grandfather designed our 1884 gallery wing, opened the award-winning @Crawfordartcafe in 1986. We offer our deepest sympathies to her loved ones at this sad time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam pic.twitter.com/3t8NORXW9y— Crawford Art Gallery (@CrawfordArtGall) June 13, 2018
Euro-toques Ireland, the European-wide chefs’ group co-founded by Mrs Allen, also paid tribute.
Its general secretary, Manuella Spinelli, said: “Her innovative thinking, collaborative views and passion for Ireland’s culinary heritage will live on forever.”
Was so privileged to have spent time with #MyrtleAllen @EurotoquesIrl . She was the true founder of the current Irish food movement. The gate keeper of Irish hospitality and real pioneer .You meet one or two people throughout your career that genuinely influence you .RIP pic.twitter.com/riFj4aLCLn— Chapter One (@ChapterOneDub) June 13, 2018
Liam Kirwan, the head chef of Mikey Ryan’s, in Cashel, said the Ballymaloe cookbook was his very first cookbook, and played a big part in his love of cooking.
JP McMahon, whose Cava Bodega, Aniar and Tartare restaurants in Galway specialise in local, artisan and seasonal produce, described her as a “titan of Irish food”.
“All that I do continues her legacy . . . of making Irish food world class,” he said.
* For extensive coverage on Mrs Allen's passing and her legacy as =a leading light of Irish cooking please see tomorrow's Irish Examiner
- Additional reporting by Digital Desk