Tributes flow in for 'unlikely pioneer' Myrtle Allen

Tributes flow in for 'unlikely pioneer' Myrtle Allen
Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House, celebrating her 90th birthday four years ago.

“QUIETLY doing her own thing, she was an unlikely pioneer.”

That was how Myrtle Allen, who passed away peacefully at CUH yesterday, was described by her daughter-in-law Darina.

Darina Allen and Myrtle Allen.Tributes have poured in from around Cork, Ireland and internationally for the woman described by John and Sally McKenna as ‘one the most important

Darina Allen and Myrtle Allen.
Darina Allen and Myrtle Allen.

Tributes have poured in from around Cork, Ireland and internationally for the woman described by John and Sally McKenna as ‘one the most importantMyrtle Allen. Pic: Ballymaloe Twitter feed.individual creative talents in the history of the Irish state’.

The 94-year-old’s influence can be seen in the outpouring of esteem and appreciation, with many in Cork crediting her with setting them on their own careers in food.

“Myrtle is the grand dame of Irish food and I don’t say that lightly,”

Claire Nash of Nash 19 said. “I would never have been inspired to be in or passionate about the business without her huge influence on my life.” 

Claire worked at Ballymaloe when she was a teenager and said ‘that is where my love for beautiful Irish food came from’.

Chef and restaurateur Rachel Allen, married to Myrtle’s grandson, agrees. 

“I think there must be so many people around ireland and the world who are using her recipes, and probably not even realising it,” she said.

“She was incredibly modest and intelligent and she really always thought outside the box."

Myrtle Allen also began the Crawford Cafe in 1986 and current manager Sinead Doran said: “She had an amazing vision for simple, local food - who knows where we would be without her. 

“I am proud to continue her legacy.”

Tributes came from all around Ireland, with the owners of Chapter One restaurant in Dublin calling her ‘the gate keeper of Irish hospitality’ and critic Tom Doorley describing her as the ‘doyenne of Irish food and a truly remarkable woman’.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expressed his sadness and said he had the pleasure of dining with her at Ballymaloe and it is at Ballymaloe her absence will be most keenly felt, by family, staff and guests.

“Everybody loved her at Ballymaloe, she used to say that people didn’t work for her, they worked with her,” Darina said. 

“So they were more like a Ballymaloe family, many people have been working there for 30,40 or 50 years and it is like losing a member of the family for them too. 

“She always wanted the guests at Ballymaloe to have the best possible experience.

“We have heard from all over the world, people from America and so on."

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