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A Guide to Kylemore Abbey

For many it’s the romance of Ireland that draws them to this island. 

Centuries of history, folklore and culture are packed into a relatively small space meaning you’ll find a gem around every corner. Kylemore Abbey is one of those gems.

If you haven’t visited yet, read on and plan your trip as soon as possible. 

What is Kylemore Abbey?

Kylemore Abbey is a Victorian era estate with castle, walled gardens and church all set within the beautiful surroundings of the Connemara Mountains, chiefly the Druchruach Mountain, and Lough Pollacappul. 

The Abbey was built by the wealthy London doctor, and heir to a considerable textiles fortune, Mitchell Henry. The story goes that in 1855 Mitchell honeymooned at Kylemore Lodge with his new wife Margaret. They became so besotted with the area that Mitchell decided to build and 4 years, 100 men and 40,000 square foot later, Kylemore Abbey first opened its doors in 1871.

The private home, as it was then, contained 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, library, smoke room, gunroom and more! Quite the pad!

Unfortunately this isn’t a happy tale. In 1875 Margaret died of a fever, whilst on holiday in Egypt, and the Abbey became a darker place as a result. Mitchell eventually built the Kylemore Church, found just 1 mile from the Abbey, in memory of his wife.

By 1909 Mitchell had sold up to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester but their reign was short lived and by 1920 new arrivals, and still the current tenants, pitched up in Connemara.

Belgian Benedictine nuns, fleeing World War One in Ypres, arrived in 1920 and have been there ever since! 

Where is Kylemore Abbey?

Kylemore Abbey is located within the Connemara Mountains in County Galway approximately one hour from Galway city. 

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How to Get to Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is situated in the Connemara region in the west of Ireland and as a result is most easily accessible via Galway city, Shannon, Clifden, Cong and Westport.

It is only really accessible via car or bus but please be aware that you’ll need to plan your bus journey in advance.

The Abbey, and grounds, are open every day from 9am-6pm so you’ve got plenty of time to wander and it’s worth noting that children under 10 get in for free and pre-booking online will save you 10% on ticket price! 

Is Kylemore Abbey still a School?

Unfortunately Kylemore Abbey no longer operates as a school. 

Upon taking ownership of the Abbey in the 1920s the Benedictine nuns setup an all girls international boarding school and day school for locals. The school operated for almost a century and only closed in June 2010! 

Is Kylemore Abbey worth Visiting?

Absolutely! 

The west of Ireland receives so many plaudits (and rightly so!) for its breathtakingly rugged beauty. Much of the Wild Atlantic Way is beautiful because it has been battered and shaped by the Atlantic Ocean over hundreds of thousands of years but Kylemore Abbey represents a departure from this. 

The Abbey, the estate and surrounding area, represents a moment of serene beauty in an area of the country famed for its wildness. That in itself is worth seeing.

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There you have it!

Whether you go for the history, the breathtaking beauty or both, Kylemore Abbey is well worth a visit.

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