Haven’t yet planned where you’ll be spending Easter break? MEG WALKER travels across Ireland to uncover some outstanding options.
Nothing says spring like a visit to Ballymaloe.
Food devotees come from far and wide to taste the recipes created by Myrtle Allen when she first opened her restaurant doors in 1964, still prepared today, the ingredients for which are grown in the gardens or caught or reared nearby.
And when I tell you the food is everything you’ll hope it will be... well, take my word for it. But there’s more to Ballymaloe than food, if you can believe that. The house itself has its own soul. Things are done differently here, as if time has stood still – the Allens, after all, know what works, and while they’ve remained progressive in how they look at food, they haven’t ventured too far from the good old-fashioned hospitality they’ve been providing for more than five decades.
There are no TVs in the bedrooms (you’re here to reboot), the house is heated by a wood chip boiler, there are members of staff who’ve been here since nearly the very beginning, and during your stay you truly feel part of something very special.
A visit – or better yet, a day course – at the Cookery School down the road, founded by Darina Allen and her brother Rory O’Connell, is highly recommended, but if time doesn’t allow, and you’re here on a Saturday, stop for lunch at Saturday Pizzas for what I promise will be one of the nicest pizzas you’ll taste outside of Italy.
For Easter, kids can collect and paint their own eggs before the annual hunt. Rooms, from €210 per night B&B for two nights including a traditional Simnel Easter cake for afternoon tea.