Ballymaloe founder to be laid to rest

Myrtle Allen

Myrtle Allen, founder of the world renowned Ballymaloe House in Co Cork, will be laid to rest tomorrow following a Quaker ceremony.

Mrs Allen, 94, passed away at Cork University Hospital on Wednesday following a short illness.

She was predeceased by her husband Ivan and is survived by her six children, more than 20 grandchildren and an even larger number of great-grandchildren.

The matriarch of the well- known Allen family, she was born Myrtle Hill in Tivoli in Cork in 1924. She was educated at Frencham Heights in the UK before moving to a school in Newtown in Waterford arising out of the outbreak of the Second World War. She went to live in Ballymaloe with her husband Ivan in the late 1940s.

Mrs Allen blazed a trail in the Irish food industry and was a world-respected chef and hotelier. She continually stressed the importance of local produce.

Simon Coveney, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, described her as a “pioneering influence on Irish hospitality, ambition and food.” Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said Mrs Allen was a “champion of Irish cuisine” having been the first Irish woman to ever earn a Michelin star.

Mrs Allen received a honorary doctorate from UCC in 2000 and was a Taste Icon award winner and a lifetime achievement recipient at the Women and Agriculture Awards.

She opened the doors of Ballymaloe House in 1964. In an interview with the Irish Independent in 2014, she said that her business grew by word of mouth.

“We started quite small,” said Mrs Allen. “I didn’t over advertise. I put a notice on the gate, and I think there was very little more that I did. I think probably I might have got a mention in the Cork Examiner. But I deliberately didn’t push it all. I wasn’t really looking for a lot of customers. I was really concentrating, I think rightly, on getting the workings right, getting the food right, the staff right, the service right.”

Mrs Allen’s funeral Mass will take place tomorrow at 12pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked mourners to give donations to Cork University Hospital.

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