Irish chef and Ballymaloe House founder Myrtle Allen dies aged 94

She died this morning 'surrounded by her family'

Irish chef and Ballymaloe House founder Myrtle Allen dies aged 94

Myrtle Allen. Image: Gareth Chaney/Photocall Ireland

Updated 16.10

Award-winning chef, food writer and teacher Myrtle Allen has died aged 94.

Her family says she passed away peacefully at Cork University Hospital today.

Myrtle and her husband Ivan opened Ballymaloe House - their home in Shanagarry, Co Cork - as a restaurant in 1964, and it later became a hotel.

The restaurant proved a success, and held a Michelin Star between 1975 and 1980.

Ivan died in 1998, and over the subsequent two decades Myrtle continued to live at Ballymaloe.

The couple had six children.

Celebrity chef Darina Allen - Myrtle's daughter-in-law - helped expand the Ballymaloe name with the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

The family legacy also includes Ballymaloe Foods, best known for its popular relish.

According to Ballymaloe, Mrs Allen had 22 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

"A pioneering influence"

In a statement, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Myrtle Allen was "a beautiful person who has had a pioneering influence on Irish hospitality, ambition and food". 

He said: "When she and her husband, Ivan, opened a restaurant and hotel more than 50 years ago they could hardly have imagined that, not only would they put Ballymaloe House on the map, but also onto supermarket shelves throughout Ireland and the world.

"Myrtle Allen’s success is down to her hard work, high standards, sheer determination and overwhelming pride in Irish produce. Many other successful Irish brands have followed the route she pioneered."

He said that the people of Cork are "extremely proud" of the chef, adding: "I would like to offer my sincere sympathy to her family and friends."

Tributes to Myrtle have also been paid across social media: