Irish food icon Noreen Kinney will be laid to rest in Crosshaven alongside her parents

Chef, activist and journalist Noreen Kinney's ashes will be buried today with her parents in Crosshaven
Irish food icon Noreen Kinney will be laid to rest in Crosshaven alongside her parents

Noreen Kinney

Noreen Kinney's influence on the Irish food scene is indisputable, no more so than in Cork. She passed away in Tampa Bay, Florida in September 2021, where she had lived with her family since the ninties. 

Noreen, born to Irish parents, grew up all over the world on account of her dad being a doctor with the British Army. She settled in Cork in the 70s, and raised her daughters, Muirgheal and Rachel here until their teens. 

Noreen's daughter, Rachel Wheeler, says her mother saw a huge gap in the food scene at the time. 

"It was very different back then. The food was very bland, you know, like Irish Stew, Shepherd's Pie, bangers and mash, that type of thing, so she saw this opportunity in Irish cuisine and so that's when she started doing her culinary tours. 

Rachel shares how popular Noreen's tours were. 

"They started selling out rapidly. Come rain or storm, they were sold out. Women, women everywhere were just flocking to these courses that she made and she would always dress up in a really fancy outfit, for her culinary course instead of like an apron or something like that, everything was very proper.

Noreen Kinney
Noreen Kinney

"It took off and eventually her reputation grew and she started expanding and going around the country doing the tours then eventually she started writing for the Cork Examiner once a week."

Noreen was awarded accolades such as recognition as pioneer of new Irish cuisine by Bord Bia in 2002. Noreen was also an honorary culinary ambassador in America for Bord Fáilte.

Rachel said that while her mother was known so widely for her food, she was also an activist and passionate about women's issues in Ireland. 

"My mom was very, very proud of what she had done in the culinary field and she would talk about that a lot, but she wouldn't talk about some of the other stuff that she did. After she passed. I was looking through her files and she had tons and tons of her articles in scrapbooks and I found one from the papers from maybe the late 70s or early 80s. It was just talking about women's rights and some women had been raped and people were saying things at the time like 'oh, you know if she hadn't been out walking on the street or what she was wearing or this or that. My mom was very deeply offended by that and she wrote an article about it and about the attitudes and how they needed to change and stuff like that.

"I don't know if that's what triggered her getting involved with the Women's Political Association, she was a founding member of the Cork branch and ended up involved at a national level.

Founding Member of Cork Branch WPA
Founding Member of Cork Branch WPA

"For me personally that was a bigger deal. That was something I was very proud of."

Rachel says her mom was "very different".

"My kids and I, we joke about that sometimes. She was 100% Irish but she had a very strong British accent because she was raised in British India. That didn't help when she first came here was the early 70s with that British accent, sometimes that didn't help because it was a whole different time. It would turn some people off having that upper-crust British accent. she was definitely an interesting lady."

Noreen will be laid to rest with her parents today in Saint Patrick's Cemetery in Crosshaven. 

"My grandparents are buried in the Catholic cemetery in Crosshaven. When she passed she was cremated and we've brought her ashes back now, and we're gonna have a funeral for her at the Catholic Church in Crosshaven, Tuesday, July 5 at 11:30am. Following that we're going to have the burial at the cemetery and then some refreshments." 

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