Everything good about Ireland can be found in County Cork - Lonely Planet

Myrtle Allen has been credited with almost single-handedly creating Irish fine dining by the Lonely Planet travel writers.

Myrtle Allen with Darina, Rachel and Hazel. Ballymaloe celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: Denis Scannell

The grandmother of Irish gastronomy famously transformed herself from an east Cork farmer’s wife into a Michelin star chef.

The Cork mother of six, who famously admitted she couldn’t scramble an egg when she got married, is now the matriarch of Ireland’s best-known culinary dynasty.

And the travel bible acknowledges her contribution to the Irish foodie revolution in its latest edition of Lonely Planet: Ireland.

“Myrtle Allen is a living legend, acclaimed internationally for her near single-handed creation of fine Irish cooking,” it says.

In its latest guide to Cork, it calls Ballymaloe House “somewhere special” and namechecks Darina and Rachel Allen who have continued Myrtle’s tradition of cooking.

Meanwhile, the biggest county received gushing praise from the global travel tome.

Everything good about Ireland can be found in county Cork, it says.

Cork City — described as the country’s second city — was described as a “thriving metropolis made glorious by location and its almost Rabelaisian devotion to the finer things in life”.

Ireland’s second city is first in every important respect, at least according to the locals who cheerfully refer to it as the real capital of Ireland, it writes.

“There’s a bit of a hipster scene but the best of the city is still happily traditional.”

Kissing the Blarney stone at Blarney Castle, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan.

The Blarney Stone is described in the guide as “proof of the power of a good yarn”.

While Lonely Planet: Ireland advises a trip to the stone, it warns tourists against planting their lips on the rock.

“Try not to think of the local lore about all the fluids that drench the stone other than saliva. Better still just don’t kiss it,” it says.

It dates Blarney’s association with smooth talking back to when Britain’s 16th-century Queen Elizabeth is said to have invented the term “to talk blarney” out of exasperation with Lord Blarney’s ability to talk endlessly without ever actually agreeing to her demands.

In its chapter on the Irish capital, the travel bible declares the city is “sultry rather than sexy”.

And it points out that the recession hasn’t affected the city’s global reputation for enjoying life.

“The city has seen its fair share of triumph and disaster in the last decade, but it treats both as imposters and continues to grind out the good times,” it says.

The launch party for the new ABC Drumcondra Market.

And it praised Dublin for having the best range of entertainment available anywhere in Ireland, not including the pub, although its watering holes were described as “an absolute must for any visitor”.

It gives a special mention to Dublin’s southside, describing it as a neighbourhood which borders the southern bank of the Grand Canal.

“[They] are the city’s most desirable neighbourhoods and most precious postcodes: Dublin 4, which includes fancy schmancy Ballsbridge and Donnybrook, home to embassies and local potentates.”

Dublin 6 is described as the place where the “professional classes who still want a slice of city life reside”.

A lady feeding the birds on the Grand Canal in Drimnagh. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan.

Meanwhile, north of the Liffey is described as “grittier than its more genteel southside counterpart”.

“The neighbourhood immediately north of the River Liffey offers a fascinating mix of 18th-century grandeur, traditional city life and multicultural melting pot that is contemporary Dublin.”

However, Dublin was chided by the guide for its lack of child-friendly facilities for tourists.

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