Local Produce and Seasonal Home Cooking
Dine at Ballymaloe Country Restaurant
The Home of Irish Country Cuisine
Stay in the warm Hospitality of Ballymaloe Country House
Events at Ballymaloe Country House
Supper Clubs, Wine Tastings and Events
The Grainstore at Ballymaloe
Music, Theatre, Comedy, Art and More
Myrtle Allen Shares The Story of Ballymaloe
Myrtle Allen was a national treasure. Everyone who knows anything about proper Irish food knows that. Sadly having passed away in 2018, she was a real culinary heroine without whom the food culture of this country would not be the way it is today. And this establishment, Ballymaloe Country House - the elegant, East Cork country home she shared with husband and their children, is where it all began. You don't really get a sense of just how important this place is on the Irish food scene until you make the pilgrimage. Walk through the front door into the wide entrance hall, and just let the atmosphere hit you.
Then it all slots into place - and you begin to grasp exactly why this is THE Mecca of real Irish cooking. The sheer drive of the woman behind it simply blows you away. Having had the pleasure to meet her on a past visit to Ballymaloe, she happily told us why she began to support the local producers in the area. She wanted to keep them in business. When she was in the kitchen herself, Mrs Allen made sure that everything the Ballymaloe land and gardens could not provide for the menu was sourced as near to home as possible.
That ethos remains to this day. Ballymaloe country house is still in the loving care of the Allen family and it has retained every bit of the charming family home atmosphere. Guests are looked after like real flesh and blood, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave - you'll feel this house is your home, the staff your staff.
If you are staying here for any length of time, you won't be long settling in, and may get into the habit of retiring to the drawing room after supper to listen to Rory and whichever other musicians are on hand put on an evening's after dinner entertainment. Watch out if you have any bit of a singing voice - you might be asked to join in! This is no place to be shy. You're in Cork, where the craic is mighty. And when you have partaken of the wonderful home cooked delights the Ballymaloe chefs turn out every evening, you'll feel bolstered and brave enough to tackle anything - from a quick joke to an Irish dance.
Dinner is served in the formal dining room, and on busy days and weekends, extends through to a pretty garden room and conservatory extension. It's normally six courses including cheese, dessert and coffee with petit fours. This menu is seasonal at all times, so you get a flavour of what's available in the locality, plus the fruits and vegetables of the house's own walled garden.
Breakfast is a house speciality. When you rise from peaceful slumber in one of the house's very comfortable bedrooms, with garden views, you're bound to feel a little peckish. You won't be disappointed with the choice of freshly squeezed citrus juices, Ballymaloe home-made mueslis, and a heaving table of fruit compotes and yogurt. A table of homemade breads with Ballymaloe marmalades and preserves is an invitation to be greedy! If you have room, choose from hot freshly cooked dishes like the Full Irish with Ballymaloe's free-range eggs, or fresh kippers and other fish as available.
Aside from great food and ambience here - the Ballymaloe grounds have an outdoor pool, gardens and vegetable gardens, and the Ballymaloe Shop next door stocks everything and anything a keen cook needs. Children are well catered for - and have their own dining times for tea. Myrtle was a great believer in filling the house with children, which makes it feel like home. Isn't that where we started?
Ballymaloe Country House welcomes guests all year around, with the exception of the 25th, 26th of December and a four week break in January for maintenance and refurbishment. Please note: Ballymaloe Country House is open for lunch only on Christmas Eve.