Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House is the most important person in the history of the Irish state. Her fifty years of service to Irish food and hospitality makes Eamon de Valera’s twenty-odd years as Taoiseach pale in comparison, and her unwavering moral vision is unmatched by another other politician or public figure in Irish life. In addition, the international respect she commands cannot be matched by any other Irish man or woman. So, it is worth pointing out that the on the first occasion when we personally saw Mrs Allen in Ballymaloe, it was late on a Friday evening during a very busy service, and she herself was busy clearing, and then re-setting, a table. She had taken the old French maxim of “Le patron mange ici”, and written it in Irish: “Le patron travail ici” – the boss works here. The team at ballymaloe House today remain true to her vision, which is why this is such a unique, and unforgettable, destination.
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