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

The  Staff Canteen

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.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

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