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Death occurs of Hazel Allen, the Laois woman who was a leading figure in the renowned Ballymaloe House Hotel dynasty

Hazel Allen

The death has occurred of Hazel Allen, the Laois woman who was a driving force in the phenomenon that is Ballymaloe House Hotel, a renowned premises near Midleton in East Cork.

Though she began working in Ballymaloe more than 50 years ago, Hazel Allen (nee Lalor) grew up in Ballacolla. Her family remain very well known and active in the area and it was the Lalor farm that played host to the National Ploughing Championships in 1995 and again in the early 2000s.

Hazel began working in Ballymaloe in 1969 and married Rory Allen, son of Myrtle, the matriarch of the establishment.

Indeed it was a quirk that two Laois women, whose home places were just a couple of miles from each other, married two of the Allen sons, with Darina O’Connell marrying Tim Allen.

The two duly went on to play massive roles as Ballymaloe evolved over the years. Hazel ran the Ballymaloe House Hotel and lived just a stone’s throw from the famed country house. Darina founded the Ballymaloe Cookery School which has run countless high-end courses over the years and further solidified Ballymaloe as world-renowned brand in the food industry.

Hazel was a calm and authoritative figure, who’ll be remembered for her attention to detail, her unstinting hard work and long hours and the kindness and decency she showed to those she worked alongside.

Among her many legacies is Ireland’s Blue Book, a prestigious guide to historic guesthouses and restaurants, of which she was one of the founders in 1974.

A statement issued following Hazel’s death said: “Ballymaloe House and the extended Allen family are sad to announce the passing of Hazel Allen, who died peacefully on May 3rd, in the care of Marymount Hospice, surrounded by loved ones following a long illness.

“Hazel is survived by her husband Rory, children Cullen, Fawn, Darren, Caragh and Róisin, her 15 grandchildren, sons and daughters-in-law, the Allen family, friends, staff and guests of Ballymaloe.”

Funeral arrangements to follow.