Kylemore Abbey and gardens
Originally built in 1867 as a romantic gift and known as Ireland’s most romantic castle, Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens is in Connemara, County Galway, 46km from Westport, past Leenane and Killary Harbour. It is one of the top tourist attractions in the West of Ireland.
The Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history including engineering initiatives, model farms, tragedy, royal visits, gambling debts, a hideaway during Ireland’s troubled history as well as excellence in education
Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain (1,736ft) on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul, in the heart of Connemara, this is the perfect location for a family day out. Kylemore Abbey offers visitors breathtaking scenery, wonderful woodland walks and garden tours, with fascinating history and beautiful architecture. This is indeed a place not to be missed.
Kylemore Castle was built by Mitchell and Margaret Henry between 1867 and 1871. Tradition has it that the couple visited Connemara on honeymoon and were enchanted by the beauty of the landscape. It was the couple’s wish someday to own a home there and it is said that during those visits, the Henry’s rented Kylemore Lodge, the original building on the site where they later built Kylemore Castle.
On the death of his father, a Manchester cotton merchant, Mitchell chose to abandon his career in medicine and turned to business and politics. He bought Kylemore Lodge and built the magnificent Castle, complete with gardens, walks and woodlands which eventually covered 13,000 acres of land.
Henry had a policy of improvement and advancement and began reclaiming bogland almost immediately and encouraged his tenants to do likewise.
For forty years, Henry and his tenants turned thousands of acres of waste land into the productive Kylemore Estate. He developed it as a commercial and political experiment and the result brought benefits to the entire region and left a lasting impression on the landscape and on the memory of the local people.
Mitchell Henry introduced many improvements for the locals who were recovering from the Great Famine, providing work, shelter and later a school for his workers’ children. He represented Galway in the House of Commons for 14 years.
In 1920, The Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased Kylemore Castle and 10,000 acres for a little over £45,000. Some of the land was later purchased by the Land Commission and divided out among the tenants, and the Castle was converted into an Abbey.
The Community had originally been based in Ypres but had to leave after their Abbey was destroyed in the early days of World War I and they settled in Kylemore in December 1920. The nuns opened an international boarding school and established a day school for local girls. They also ran a farm and guesthouse; the guesthouse was closed after a devastating fire in 1959.
The Abbey today
Kylemore Abbey is open to visitors all year round. You can visit the Abbey, the Gothic Church where musical performance take place throughout the year, the Victorian Walled Gardens, the Craft Shop, Pottery studio, Restaurant and Tea Rooms as well as guided Lake and Woodland walks. Kylemore also offers many activities during the summer months, which include Summer Lunch time music in the Church.
Kylemore, Connemara, Co Galway, Ireland.
Telephone +353 95 52000