Ballymaloe House founder Myrtle Allen, who was the first Irish woman to be awarded a Michelin star, has died, aged 94.

The chef bought Ballymaloe House in 1948 with her husband Ivan and opened The Yeats Room Restaurant in the family home in Shanagarry, County Cork in 1964 before later adding a hotel.

She was first awarded a Michelin star in 1975 which she held until 1980. Her daughter-in-law, Darina, went on to found the Ballymaloe Cookery School. 

Myrtle and her late husband Ivan, who passed away in 1998, were parents to Yasmin, Fern, Tim (Darina's husband), Wendy and Rory.

Ballymaloe confirmed the news of her death on Twitter: "Myrtle Allen passed away peacefully at Cork University Hospital on Wednesday 13th June, surrounded by her family."

Tributes have been pouring in for Myrtle, who was the mother-in-law of top chef Darina Allen and one of the founders of the Ballymaloe hotel, cookery school and food business.

Speaking to RTÉ Food today, Darina's brother and fellow chef Rory O'Connell paid tribute to the legendary restaurateur, hotelier, chef and writer: "A lot of wonderful words will be spoken about Myrtle regarding her talent, genius and realisation of the quality of Irish food.

"I always felt what wasn’t so recognised was that a lot of her work was imbued with a sense of duty to the farmers and the people who produce the food.

"Having grown up in a different time where food was scarcer during the war when it was regarded a sin not to treat food properly, I believe that was part of what drove her to achieve the incredible tings she did for Ballymaloe and also at home and abroad."

Rory also posted this message on Instagram: "I guess the food just got a lot better in heaven."

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Blue Book Founder: The visionary was also the founder of Ireland's Blue Book travel guide and she first launched the collection of country houses, historic houses and restaurants over 40 years ago, in 1974.

Roisin Ingle

Ballymakenny Farm

Food in many forms