The Covid-19 pandemic plunged the Ballymaloe Cookery School into the red as it recorded losses of €193,097 for 2020.

Co-owner of the school, Darina Allen said, "Nobody wants to make a loss in the business but it could have been so much worse."

The losses followed profits of €148,429 and €62,134 over the two prior 12 month periods.

The cookery school employs 57 people and Ms Allen said that everyone has put their shoulder to the wheel. "I couldn't be prouder of my team during very difficult times for everyone".

When cookery courses stopped at the school during the first lockdown, "we had to think outside the box and be versatile". This involved ramping up sales at the Ballymaloe Farm Shop and setting up two farmers’ markets where patrons could purchase produce from the 100 acre organic farm at Ballymaloe.

Teachers at the cookery school were redeployed cooking for the farm shop and sowing seeds in the farm.

"I am a great one for not having all your eggs in one basket," she said. "It is not about big amounts of money - it is about small amounts of money that help to keep the show on the road and maintain cash-flow."

Ms Allen also said she was "hugely grateful" for Government supports during the pandemic "because we wouldn't have a hope of doing what we are doing without it".

The accounts show that the company last year received €282,596 in Covid-19 wage subsidy supports for employees.

The school’s 12 week Certificate Course at €12,695 per person run three times each year and provides a sizeable chunk of the cookery school’s revenues.

Ballymaloe held a 12 week course last September and earlier this year, Gardai visited the school concerning a suspected Covid-19 breach relating to eight students sitting the school’s course which commenced in January during 'lockdown’,

Ms Allen said that the local Gardaí subsequently got in touch to confirm to the school that it was in full compliance with Covid-19 regulations concerning the eight students sitting the modified course.

The eight students completed their 12 week course and the school is currently hosting its second 12 week course of the year at half capacity with 35 students.

"I am very grateful to the students in how they have adapted and responded to the situation."