Myrtle Allen, the first Irish woman to be awarded a Michelin star, has died aged 94

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th June 2018

One of the most influential figures in the Irish food industry, Myrtle Allen passed away yesterday at Cork University Hospital after a short illness.

Myrtle was highly respected and the first Irish woman to be awarded a Michelin star. She and her husband Ivan Allen bought Ballymaloe House and the surrounding farmland in 1947. Myrtle originally learnt to cook at the Cork School of Commerce and they opened the restaurant at Ballymaloe in 1964.

Ballymaloe House - Allen family - ballymaloe.ie

The Allen Family
Credit: ballymaloe.ie

After a demand for overnight accommodation, the pair turned the property into a guesthouse and it quickly gained critical acclaim as one of Ireland’s finest hotels. In 1974, Myrtle established Ireland's Blue Book travel guide to showcase the country’s hotel scene.

She was an active member of Macra na Feirme – a youth organisation for Irish farmers. Myrtle was very passionate about the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and worked closely with local meat, fish and vegetable suppliers to source produce.

Myrtle co-founded Euro-toques International and was the founder of Euro-toques Ireland – organisations that aim to preserve the culinary heritage of their respective countries. In 1981, she was invited to take over La Ferme Irlandaise in Paris, serving traditional Irish food and Guinness.

Myrtle had six children, most of whom are directly involved with Ballymaloe House. Her daughter-in-law Darina Allen opened the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Kinoith in 1983. Darina has since written several successful books on Irish cuisine and a leader of the Slow Food movement in Ireland.

Tributes have poured in for Myrtle Allen on social media including many prominent young Irish chefs, who cite her as an inspiration and a leader.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th June 2018

Myrtle Allen, the first Irish woman to be awarded a Michelin star, has died aged 94