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Ballymaloe Cookery School and Ballymaloe House

Ballymaloe Garden Map

Ballymaloe Cookery School, Organic Farm & Gardens in East Cork is a magical place to go for an afternoon cookery class, a weekend cooking course, or the three-month professional course.

Ballymaloe House

Additionally if you want a complete experience – you must stay at the Ballymaloe House, their hotel just 2 miles down the road. Myrtle Allen is the matriarch of the hotel and of the elegant  dining room, The Yeats Room, where wonderful simple, classic food is served. Such as elegant salads, super fresh fish and shellfish, outstanding roast meats and smoked fish, and divine farm-fresh vegetables.

Ballymaloe ivy covered

Myrtle Allen (born 1924, Tivoli, Cork, County Cork) is “as important to her country’s cuisine as Alice Waters was to America’s.”

Ballymaloe garden arch

In 1943, Myrtle Hill married Ivan Allen, who was working at the 400 acre farm, Kinoith, in Shanagarry. In 1947, the couple bought Ballymaloe House and the surrounding farm and raised their six children there. Ivan managed the fruit and vegetable farm and worked on Kinoith, while Myrtle took care of the children and the massive house. Later, in 1958, Ivan Allen inherited Kinoith from Wilson Strangman, the deceased owner.

fresh Ballymaloe herbs

Myrtle had an abundance of fresh products in her kitchen. Under the guidance of Ivan, an avid gourmet, she learned to cook by taking cookery classes in the College of Commerce (designed by her famed architect father) in nearby Cork  and by self-training with her ever growing collection of cookery books.

animals at Ballymaloe

In 1964, Myrtle decided to start a restaurant in her own dining room she named The Yeats Room. Her philosophy of using local fresh ingredients and changing her menu daily to reflect the best offerings of the day and of the season was completely revolutionary at the time.

Ballymaloe Cookery School garden

Later, because of new liquor laws, she converted ten of the unused rooms in the home into rooms for a guesthouse, which grew into the hotel Ballymaloe House is today.

Ballymaloe demonstration kitchen

By the 1970′s she and her sous-chef, Darina O’Connell, started giving courses in cooking. In 1983, Darina, by then married to Myrtle’s son Tim Allen, and her brother, Rory O’Connell, moved the cookery classes to Kinoith and co-founded Ballymaloe Cookery School. Darina Allen is now a well-known celebrity chef, cookery book author and pioneer in Ireland of the slow food movement.

Ballymaloe back kitchen shelf

If you want to be truly inspired and become as in awe of this place and these people as I am, go to THIS PAGE and watch the “Myrtle Allen A Life In Food” video. You will learn so much more than I can share about Ballymaloe and learn how and why it is the unique and fascinating place that it is.

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July 28, 2014   1 Comment

zucchini melts

zucchini melts with grilled asparagus and tomatoes

What does this plate say to you?

To me – it screams SUMMER! All those bright and colorful veggies, grilled to perfection!

You can use your outdoor grill or a grill pan to make it. I chose the grill pan … for obvious reasons.

After looking over the post, you almost don’t need a recipe. I took so many photos of each step – so as long as you know that you need enough olive oil, salt and pepper to coat everything, you might want to skip the reading and just use this as a pictorial instructions. Enjoy.

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July 26, 2014   2 Comments

castles and kissing


We visited several castles while in Ireland.


It’s easy to do.

castle pub

They are in nearly every town and around every corner.


We stayed at some.

stone castle

We just visited and toured others.


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July 25, 2014   1 Comment

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.

Another one of our day-trips was to the beautiful and very popular Cliffs of Moher.

The Cliffs of Moher are located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They rise 120 meters (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O’Brien’s Tower.

Cliffs of Moher.

The cliffs rank among the top visited tourist sites in Ireland, and receive almost one million visitors a year.

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July 24, 2014   3 Comments

Dingle Peninsula

Irish countryside

I don’t think I’ve mentioned just how gloriously beautiful Ireland is. Seriously, it is beyond words. Neither photos nor waxing poetic can do it an ounce of justice.


I do know that the words that will immediately pop into my mind every time I think back on our time in Ireland are:

Rock walls.
Endless fields of sheep and Jersey cows.
100′s of shades of green.
Rows of rock walls.
Immensely kind, hospitable, gracious Irish people.
Did I mention Green?
More rock walls.

So very many Rock Walls!

master stone stackers

One thing I know for sure, the Irish really know how to stack rocks and make sturdy and good looking rock walls!

Not a drop of cement or mortar needed!

beehive hut [


July 23, 2014   3 Comments

upgraded … downgraded…

the other manor

In a mere 48 hours we went from feeling like royalty, living in the lap of luxury …. to common Irish peasants, ready to harvest potatoes.

Adare Manor

This is where we thought we were staying. Isn’t it stunning?

door ways

We booked a two-room cottage next to Adare Manor. This was because two adjacent rooms in the actual Manor were out of our comfortable price range. Way out of our price range!


For some reason, I was under the impression that the cottages were near the Manor and that we would have full access to the Manor itself. Turns out they were more than a mile away. No matter, we didn’t end up in a cottage anyway.


When we checked in, the woman at the reception desk said, “We’ve upgraded you to a villa.”


How wonderful is that? We were upgraded in Dublin to the Princess Grace Suite and now we were being upgraded from a cottage to a villa!

ugly dudly

Even “Ugly Dougly” – as I’ve dubbed him – appeared to be happy for us!

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July 22, 2014   3 Comments

Victorian walled gardens and an Abby too


We visited Kylemore Abby in Connemara, County Galway.

Kylemore gardens

While the former castle turned Abby was wonderful and impressive, it was the walled Victorian gardens that really caught my fancy.

Kylemore Abby and Cathedral

Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. Construction began in 1867, and took one hundred men four years to complete.


Other buildings include a Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum.

honey bee

The castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909, who resided there for several years before being forced to sell the house and grounds because of gambling debts.

Irish green

In 1920 the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres, Belgium during World War I. The nuns, who had been based in Ypres for several hundred years, had been bombed out of their Abbey during World War I.

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July 21, 2014   3 Comments

Ballynahinch Castle

pretty window

We really didn’t want to leave the luxury of the Princess Grace suite at The Shelbourne, but that’s what we had to do on Wednesday morning.

ireland drive

We loaded up the rental car and began our drive across the center of Ireland, from Dublin, on the east coast, to Ballynahinch Castle on the west coast. It’s about a 4 hour drive, though we took a little longer, stopping in the center of the country, in the town of Athlone.

castle walls

There, we toured the medieval Athlone Castle along the Shannon River.


While the boys played “lawn” chess on the top level of the castle, I was more focused on what was in the background.

Ss Peter and Paul Church

I visited the beautiful Church of Saints Peter and Paul.

inside church

Beautiful, inside and out.

It began to rain, so back in the car we went.

Ballynahinch Castle

We followed the road markers to our destination, turning down dense tree lined lanes until the castle rose out of nowhere in front of us.


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July 18, 2014   4 Comments

luck of the Irish

Ireland green

This is my first view of Ireland, from a British Airlines flight, about to land in Dublin. Shades of green, as far as the I can see, just as I imagined it would be.


Once we collected our baggage and went through customs, we headed for the car rental office. This was to be our (Dave’s really, I have no intention of driving!) first experience with driving on the left side of the road. Dave reserved a car with automatic transmission and with GPS. The car we ended up with had neither.


We paid extra to get the GPS but were still stuck with the manual transmission. Dave had a manual when I met him, but that was in 1982… it’s been a while! Put it all together and you have the uneasiness of driving a manual, in a foreign country, on the wrong side of the road, with a far from modern GPS.


All in all, he did great, at least on this, our first day. I am not being a critic, actually I am giving high praise! If it was me, with my ADD, dyslexia and the fact that I can’t drive a stick – Very High Praise!

antique game table

It was only about 6 miles from the airport to our hotel, but with all that, it was still something of an adventure. You know how travel is, with the security and the tensions and anxiety that foreign travel bring about, we were happy to get to our hotel and even happier when the valet said he’d park the car for us!

lobby flowers

We’d booked a room at the historic (1824) Shelbourne, overlooking beautiful Stephen’s Green. The very hotel where the Irish Constitution was drafted on the first floor in 1937.

free drinks

We were escorted by the bellman to the registration desk and from there on out – it was all gravy!


We’d reserved a “junior suite” so that Dave and I would have the master and Connor would have the suite part of the room. We were informed that we’d been upgraded!


Is there anything better than hearing that you’ve upgraded?! It is THE BEST!

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July 17, 2014   13 Comments

London and drama

London Park

Today I’m sharing images of our last three days in London. But before you see that, you must hear all about my “passport saga” – because a trip isn’t a real trip until you have a dramatic story to tell!

guard changing

It’s a long, but rather entertaining story, with a lesson attached. That being said, I’ll intersperse the story with my London photos… just to add a little lightness and joy to it instead of all ulcer-inducing – which is what it is.

Big Ben

Our flight to Heathrow was scheduled for 7:40 PM on Friday, July 11th.  At about 1:00 PM on Wednesday, July 9th, I received this email from Dave;

“I’m sure you have already thought of this, but just making sure that all 3 of our passports are on site and you don’t need to go to the bank to retrieve them from the safe deposit box.”

Of course, I’ve already thought of that. In fact, I retrieved all three of our passports back in March when I got mine out to go to Spain. I was pretty proud of myself and was going to grab the passports from the shelf above the kitchen desk, where they had resided these last 4 months. Instead, I responded to another email from Dave about another issue and then I had to do some research and followup on that issue. Once I was done with that, about an hour later, I got up to get the passports. I looked at each one and then I saw it…

buckingham palace gates

OMG! How could this be? There is no way this is true! I can’t believe I didn’t notice this when I took out the passports four months ago! Connor’s passport was expired! EXPIRED! It expired in February of 2012! Holy Sh#t! Now what am I going to do!?!

London bus

When the four of us (Marissa included) last got our passports, either new or renewed, back in 2007, they were good for 10 years! How could Connor’s be expired!?! Mine doesn’t expire until 2017. Dave and Marissa’s expire in 2017. How can his have expired in 2012?

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July 16, 2014   4 Comments