Caylemore Abbey, Ireland: The romantic, tragic and mischievous story of Ireland’s most magnificent castle
Creating a very Victorian atmosphere, Cailemore Abbey is home to a lush enclosed garden, many nature trails, a Gothic church and awe-inspiring castle containing over 70 rooms.
Visiting Kylemore Abbey
A visit is like stepping back in time; There’s an emotional quality to the architecture and the way the castle sits right by a quiet lake.
No wonder Kylemore Abbey has established itself as one of Ireland’s most beloved attractions.
What is Kylemore Abbey?
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle.
Located in Connemara, County Galway, Kylemore Abbey is one of Ireland’s most beloved places, in no small part because of its extensive and rather romantic history.
Originally built for Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London, and his wife, the manor acquired a significant share of ownership and survived a number of different chapters that eventually led to its current life as the home of Benedictine nuns and, of course, a fantastic landmark.
The castle is massive, at 40,000 square feet, and has over 70 rooms with three-foot-thick granite walls.
Impressively there are 33 bedrooms, four bathrooms, four living rooms, as well as a ballroom, billiard room, armory, smoking room and a number of other unique rooms for visitors to see.
Beyond the castle walls are huge walled Victorian gardens covering six acres, a Gothic cathedral, a wild salmon-filled lake, and even a mausoleum containing the bodies of three Henrys!
History of Caylemore Abbey.
Part of what makes Kylemore Abbey so remarkable is the history of its history.
The Abbey, full of romance, tragedy, pranks, and religion, is by no means just a beautiful building, but rather a kind of emotional time warp, rich in the spectrum of life.
The Abbey was originally built in 1868 after Mitchell Henry and his wife fell in love with the natural beauty of the place during their honeymoon.
Determined to make it their home, it took the 100 men four years to complete the castle.
But just a few years later tragedy struck when Henry’s wife Margaret died suddenly.
In his grief, Henry built a Gothic church on the property in memory of his wife.
The next phase of Kylemore Abbey’s life included the mischievous side of Mitchell Henry – his growing gambling debts, which were becoming too high to support, forced him to sell the property to the Duke of Manchester at the time, William Angus.
Although Angus was hardly more responsible, hosting more parties than maintaining the property!
In the end, Angus was forced to sell the property too.
Enter the last and current phase of Caylemore Abie’s life: a group of Benedictine nuns from Belgium fled their war-ravaged home during World War I and settled at Castle Caylemore in 1920.
Since then, the estate has been restored and developed and continues to be a working convent in the hands of Benedictine nuns today.
Book tours from Dublin to Connemara
We recommend renting a car if you’re traveling around Dublin at your leisure, but if you don’t have wheels, Get Your Guide offers day tours from Dublin, Cork, Belfast and other major cities in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
What to expect
Today’s Kylemore Abbey is an extremely impressive, expansive site that is (mostly) open to the public.
But since much of the castle is still occupied by nuns, there are sections that are off-limits.
Nevertheless, being a 1,000-acre estate, there is no shortage of areas to explore; visitors can enjoy the Gothic church, the mausoleum, and some of the castle’s best rooms.
The rooms are lavishly decorated with portraits and fine china, and the entire site is set in a beautiful, lush setting between trees and a lake.
The Abbey’s walled Victorian garden is a marvel in itself-a maze of floral wonders and beautifully manicured paths is sure to delight the eye and provides a deeper understanding of what made the site so attractive to Henry long ago.
In addition to the architectural wonders, Killemore Abbey offers a range of year-round activities, including family days and guided hikes.
To top it off, the site also has a full-service restaurant serving home-cooked meals, a tea room, and a café.
Self-guided as well as group tours are available.
“We (Dave and Deb) enjoyed a delicious slice of apple pie in a la mode with coffee as we continued north on the Wild Atlantic Trail.
It was an amazing stop after visiting our friend Fergus in Connemara. “
Where to stay when visiting Kylemore Abbey
We had a car to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, which gave us the freedom to stay where we liked.
Dolphin Beach House, as it is owned and operated by our friend Fergus. But it is also amazing, perched on high sea cliffs overlooking the ocean.
It’s a good place to make a base to explore Killary Harbor, Killemore Abbey, the Clifden Castle walk and the Sky Road loop.
Dolphin Beach House is comfortable and modern, but also has a homey and welcoming atmosphere, located right on the beach. You can stroll for hours along the 14-kilometer long rugged coastline or relax in the quiet garden.
Tips for visiting Kylemore Abbey
Because many of the wonders of Kylemore Abbey are outside and a short walk is required between the buildings, it is recommended that you visit on a well-weathered day.
Wear a good pair of walking shoes! The estate, after all, is on 1,000 acres of land.
Also, don’t be distracted by the fact that not all of the site is accessible to visitors (including some of the castle rooms). Killemore Abbey is huge, and there is no shortage of accessible places to take in.
Also, knowing that many of the rooms are occupied by Benedictine nuns really increases the level of authenticity throughout and keeps the abbey from becoming overly attractive to tourists.
Because the site has such a rich history, it has become quite a spiritual paradise; there is no shortage of stories about the abbey, including the one about the white horse coming out of the lake every seven years!
Kylemore Abbey is a monastery in Ireland located in Connemara, County Galway. It was built for Benedictine nuns who fled Belgium during World War I. There’s plenty to do for the whole family in this place – ancient rooms, a Victorian garden and ancient history await visitors.
History of the Abbey
Kylemore Abbey’s truly remarkable history spans more than 150 years of tragedy, sadness, romance, innovation and spirituality. Built in 1868, the castle was home to a community of nuns. They arrived here in 1920 after serving in Ypres.
Settling in Kylemore, the sisters opened a world-renowned boarding school for girls. They then began rebuilding the Gothic church.
What sights can I see in Kylemore?
Visiting the abbey, tourists can explore all its attractions and participate in interesting events. The most popular are:
- A 2.43-hectare Victorian fenced garden.
- Woodland walks, picnics by the lake and exploring the nature trails that cover 400 hectares.
- The Gothic church, just five minutes walk from the shore of Laha Pollacapalla. This elegant building is a testament to the boundless love of Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret – a guide will tell you all the details of that story. If you’re lucky, you can enjoy one of the many musical performances that take place in the place year-round.
- Kylemore Abbey Gift Shop. There’s a gift for customers of all ages. You can buy some special reminder of your visit to Connemara or a valuable gift for friends and family.
- Guided Tours . Every hiker visiting Connemara should discover the hidden trails of Kylemore Manor on one of the most exciting mountain hikes. Travelers will learn the ancient history of the Irish landmark and admire the beautiful scenery of the valley.
Features of visiting Kylemore Abbey
Before arriving at the Abbey, you need to consider all the features and nuances of visiting the Abbey:
- The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
- The last shuttle from the garden to the abbey leaves at 4:50 pm.
- The garden closes at 16:50.
- The last entrance to the abbey is at 16:30.
- Before visiting this attraction, it is necessary to take care of booking an individual or group tour.
- The maximum size of the tour group is 14 people per guide. For a larger number of people you need to order the services of a second guide.
- It is mandatory to purchase appropriate hiking shoes, rain gear, extra warm clothing and a bottle of water. This is necessary in order to minimize the risk of injury or illness.
- Participants must be at least 14 years of age. People under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have an adequate level of fitness.
Kylemore Abbey in Ireland hosts these events :
How do I get to Kylemore Abbey?
To get to this Irish attraction, use the bus. A special flight that goes to Kylemore runs from 9:30 to 17:00. You can catch it at the bus station in Connemara.
In addition, there is an opportunity to travel independently by rented car. Take the N59, R336 or N84. You must drive past Mam Cross and Lake Ina. If you drive from Galway, the distance between it and the abbey is about 90 km, and from Connemara it is only about 5 km.