A visit to Connemara would not be complete without a visit to the magnificent Kylemore Abbey & Garden - the jewel in the Connemara crown! Read on to find out why Kylemore Abbey & Garden is one of the top attractions in Galway.
Kylemore Abbey & Garden has a superb picturesque lakeside setting, surrounded by woodlands at the foot of the Twelve Pins Mountains. The Abbey (which looks more like a charming fairy tale castle) is said to be one of the most admired buildings in Ireland, with its very impressive neo-gothic style exterior standing out against the backdrop of wild and beautiful Connemara.
It was originally called Kylemore Castle and was built around 1863 as a residence for a wealthy English politician named Mitchell Henry. It took about 5 years to complete the castle.
Kylemore Abbey & Garden is the home of the Benedictine Order of Nuns in Ireland who have lived here since 1920. The nuns decided to open a boarding school for girls, although the school closed in 2010. The boarding school is presently located in the abbey part of the castle.
The Benedictine nuns also ran farm and a guesthouse here, but the guesthouse had to close in 1959 due to a fire. The nuns lead a monastic life of dedication to prayer and work and a section or the Abbey is sectioned off and strictly accessed only by the nuns.
One of the most notable features of the abbey is the magnificent neo-gothic church (which looks like a miniature cathedral!). The building of this church started in 1877 when Mitchell Henry decided to dedicate it as a memorial to his dead wife.
The Victorian Walled Garden is another must see attraction at the Abbey. A stream runs through the heart of the garden and divides it into Flower Garden and Kitchen Garden. The Visitors Centre is also well worth a visit to learn more about the abbey through its video displays. It also has a 200-seater restaurant, which specialises in traditional Irish dishes and a craft shop where you can purchase some famous Kylemore Abbey Pottery.
Check out the offical Kylemore Abbey & Garden website for more information.