Have you ever been to the shell house at Ballymaloe?

This hidden gem is a must-see if you’re in the area

Designed by contemporary artist Blot Kerr-Wilson back in 1995, the shell house at Ballymaloe Cookery School is a true work of art.

As you enter the Shell House garden through the gate, a straight grass path leads towards the Shell House. At the far end of the of the herbaceous border is a deceptively simple little building with a slate roof and gothic windows. When you enter, it will take a moment for your eyes to adjust to the light, you then begin to realise that the exterior was indeed a deceptive, careful ploy. The walls, window sills and ceiling are encrusted with a myriad of shells.

Section of the interior walls at the Ballymaloe Shell House

The shells used in the creation of this house came from many different sources: Darina Allen had started a personal collection many years previously with a vague idea of building a folly. Artist Blot brought some shells herself, while others were donated as gifts from friends and family who heard about the project.

Gazing upwards toward the ceiling, you’ll begin to notice how scallops and mussels are laid in multi-coloured layers, increasing in size to give the illusion of more light. Every shell used in the roof once encased a muscle or scallop that was consumed at Ballymaloe House or at the the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

You can check out the Shell House over at the Ballymaloe House from 9:30 – 5:30 Monday – Saturday – see their website for more info.

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