Award-winning chef, writer and founder of Ballymaloe House in Co Cork, Myrtle Allen, has died at the age of 94.

Born in Cork in 1924, Myrtle Hill was educated at Frencham Heights in England before transferring to school at Newtown in Waterford when World War II broke out.

She married Ivan Allen in 1943 and the pair moved into Ballymaloe in 1947.

Mrs Allen opened the restaurant at Ballymaloe in 1964, before expanding it to incorporate a hotel.

The restaurant quickly built a reputation as a gourmet destination and Mrs Allen was the first Irish woman to be awarded a Michelin Star.

Following the success of Ballymaloe House, she established Ireland's Blue Book travel guide in 1974 to promote Irish country houses.

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The CEO of Ireland's Blue Book, Michelle Maguire, has paid tribute to Mrs Allen.

"It is because of pioneers like Myrtle, that historic country house hotels have become such a vital element of the Irish tourism story," she said.

The well-known cookery school at Ballymaloe was opened by Mrs Allen's daughter-in-law, Darina, in 1983.

Myrtle Allen died at Cork University Hospital surrounded by her family after a short illness.

Former Chef Patron of Dublin restaurant, Le Coq Hardi, John Howard described Ms Allen she epitomised the Irish family.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One Mr Howard, who co-founded the Irish branch of Euro-Toques with Ms Allen said one of her great legacies was showing what family life, family living and sharing was all about.

He said Ms Allen only ever wanted the best quality Irish produce and never wanted to import food from other countries. 

He said the reason Euro-Toques was founded was to protect food quality and cultures and he said Ms Allen did that "in spades".