This much I know: Rory Allen, Ballymaloe Grainstore

This much I know: Rory Allen, Ballymaloe Grainstore

It was always the plan that I should run the farm at Ballymaloe.

I always enjoyed farm life. I have done everything one can do on a farm. I’ve milked cows, grown sugar beet, potatoes, peas, onions, grain, carrots and parsnips. I’ve kept pigs, hens and ducks – sheep in their thousands.

Farming is a good and healthy way of life but don’t ask a farm to keep you in money. Do something else for your income and enjoy the farm. It’s a sad fact that food production has been reduced to that.

I spent two years in New Zealand, attending university and working on dairy farms there, before I came home to take over Ballymaloe. We enjoyed New Zealand so much we might have stayed there had I not got a farm to come home to.

I was a slightly reserved and shy child. Certainly not one of the noisy, trouble making kind.

When I was in my teens I was very keen on classical and flamenco guitar. I would have liked to study the guitar more seriously but that was not to be. Twice I played a classical piece on RTÉ television and once with the RTÉ Symphony backing me and Colman Pierce conducting.

I think I am achieving a reasonable work/life balance. It’s very important to be reasonably busy in order to appreciate your time off. If you can enjoy your work, or get good satisfaction from it, time off becomes less important.

I would say I am reasonably disciplined. Daily exercise becomes very important as years pass. I try to keep that up.

My most unusual skill would be as a windsurfer. It’s an unbelievable, invigorating sport. I was on the Irish team at one stage in my life. I still get out to sail on Cork Harbour when the wind is up.

The things they didn’t teach me in school, which I wish they had, are basic life skills: nutrition; cooking skills; motor repair and maintenance; household appliance repair; household repair and building skills; gardening skills. The list is endless.

The trait I most admire in other people would be the gift of tolerance to others. Respect for others’ beliefs and ways of life makes for happier communities.

My idea of happiness is to have an easy mind and to earn enough to pay the bills, and to give me sufficient income to have comparative freedom of choice.

My idea of misery would be to find myself penniless with unpleasant neighbours next door.

If I was to be reborn, just for a day, I might choose to be Robby Nash, a world class windsurfer. I’d spend the day on the water.

If money was not an issue I would enhance the grounds of Ballymaloe. One needs challenges in life so inert living or endless holidays would not be an option.

My greatest challenge was probably lambing 1000 sheep each year for 10 years.

My most fulfilling business challenge has been the building of the Ballymaloe Grainstore venue. It had to be built to a high standard and spec so all the investment had to come as it was being built.

There are two types of people who irritate me. One are high profile musicians who ask to play in Ballymaloe Grainstore and are so greedy they do not want to leave me with a survivable margin and the other are people who make exaggerated and dishonest legal claims.

My greatest fear is not being able to pay my bills.

I do not believe in life after death. I don’t think worms or birds come back to life. But I can’t work out where ghosts come from….

So far life has taught me to, hopefully, be generous and kind when dealing with others.

- As part of Feast Cork 2019, Rory and his team will be hosting an Indian Evening of Food & Film at Ballymaloe Grainstore on Wednesday September 4 from 6.30pm. The evening begins with Arun Kapil of Green Saffron serving up an authentic, flavour-infused North Indian supper followed by a screening of The Lunch Box. Tickets €25 per person. www.ballymaloegrainstore.com

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