Exploring Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

I’m so excited to finally start sharing the last leg of our fall trip! We started our vacation in Scotland, made our way to Northern Ireland via ferry, and then hopped on a bus to explore all around Ireland. I’ve already shared our time in Scotland (Edinburgh, the Highlands, and Glasgow) and I shared my thoughts on Northern Ireland on the Go Ahead Tours blog, so now let’s talk Ireland.

Today I want to talk about our first big excursion in Ireland – an afternoon at Kylemore Abbey! Kylemore Abbey is former castle turned Benedictine monastery located about an hour outside of Galway (where we were staying).



Kylemore Castle was built in the late 1800s by wealthy businessman and politician Mitchell Henry as a wedding gift for his wife Margaret. It took four years and 100 men to complete the construction of the 40,000 square foot castle. Sadly a few years after the castle was complete Margaret became ill during a vacation in Egypt and died at age 45. Mitchell was devastated and had the neo-Gothic church built as a testament to his love for his wife.




In 1909 the castle was sold to the ninth Duke of Manchester and he lived there for several years until he was forced to sell the castle and grounds to cover his gambling debts.


(my mom looks like she's freezing)

In 1920 the castle was purchased by Benedictine nuns who fled Belgium during World War I. The nuns who had been based in Ypres, Belgium for hundreds of years lost their Abbey to bombing raids during the war.



And so that’s the abbreviated version of how Kylemore Castle became Kylemore Abbey.


Anyway, we arrived at Kylemore Abbey in the morning and decided to head straight to the main house, so we’d have time to take pictures and explore before the crowds rolled in. The Abbey is absolutely stunning. Situated overlooking the lake and surrounded by forest, it’s hard to imagine a better location.



Inside a few of the rooms have been restored and are open to the public. There are panels in each room detailing the history of Kylemore Abbey and the people who have lived there.



From there we decided to walk to the church that Mitchell had built for Margaret. The church is described as “cathedral in miniature” and once instead you can easily see why. The architecture looks very similar to many of the cathedrals we’ve seen around the world. The green marble used on the columns is actually Connemara marble found in that region.


 

Also on the grounds of Kylemore Abbey (in the opposite direction of the church) is a Victorian walled garden. The garden is quite far from the main house and entry, so there’s a shuttle bus available to take guests there and back. The shuttle bus is included in the ticket price and runs on a set schedule. Unfortunately, the shuttle schedule didn’t match up with our visit (we probably could have gone if we skipped the church). A few people in our tour group made it to the gardens and said that they were beautiful, but the tea house they were planning on eating lunch at was closed for the season. So that might be something to think about if you ever visit.



After our visit to the main house and church, we had lunch at the café and it was delicious! I had a slice of sundried tomato and goat cheese quiche and my mom had a bowl of Irish stew. It was seriously one of the best meals of our trip. A lot of the ingredients are grown on the grounds of the Abbey, so everything is very fresh.


They also have a nice gift shop in the visitor center/restaurant building. My mom and I both bought a piece of local pottery…and both pieces arrived home safety in our luggage.
Oh, and kind of a funny story: We walked back to the bus after lunch and ended up being like 15 minutes early. We were the first ones to arrive and I was a little annoyed at my mom for always worrying about being late and always causing us to show up early when we could spend a few more minutes exploring. Less than a minute later it started to rain. Not a little drizzle, a full-on downpour! So the rest of our group ended up getting soaked and I ended up apologizing to my mom for complaining about heading back to the bus earlier than I wanted to.


Apart from the long day of driving from Belfast to Galway, this was our first full day in Ireland and it was such a great start to our week. Kylemore Abbey is such a stunning place to visit and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking. Beautiful mountains, lakes and so much green everywhere!






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22 comments

  1. ah! I absolutely love ireland! Looks like you had a blast too! The landscapes are amazing and the food is so good you never want to leave!

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    1. We had such an amazing time! It's such a beautiful place and everyone was so friendly!

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  2. I haven't been to Ireland yet but it's been on my bucket list for years. Seeing this reminds me why. WOW absolutely stunning.

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    1. Hopefully you make it to Ireland someday! Stunning is the perfect word to describe it!

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  3. What a stunning place! I love this kind of old Gothic abbeys! Haven't been there yet but it's on my list.
    #TravelPhotoThursday

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    1. I hope you make it there someday! It really is so stunning in person!

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  4. Your two photos of Kylemore Castle with the lake in front and hill behind are beautiful. They are so iconically Irish!

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  5. Looks like an amazing visit - love your photos! I've not been to Ireland but hopefully will make it there soon!

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    1. Hopefully you make it to Ireland soon! It's such a beautiful place!

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  6. I never realized that it was turned into a monastery! That's quite a change! Definitely high on my Ireland bucket list, but hopefully the renovation is done by the time I make it back! #CityTripping (www.caliglobetrotter.com)

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    1. I just saw on Twitter that they are renovating the front now, but it sounds like it should be all done by the end of the month!

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  7. What a beautiful setting! I’ll have to pay it a visit next time I’m in Ireland, it looks lovely, great photos!

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    1. You should definitely visit next time! It's such a beautiful place!

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  8. After seeing way too many pictures of this beautiful place, I know I cannot miss it if I visit Ireland one day. I didn't know about the history of the place. It is very interesting. Don't you love to travel and learn about castles and abbeys? #TPThursday

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    1. Yes! Castles are my favorite places to visit when traveling!

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  9. Since I'm (originally) Irish, I am glad you enjoyed your visit. For me, Kylemore is one of those places that somehow manages to look better in photos than it does in reality. But, then again, that's probably because I grew up with this scenery and somehow take it for granted.

    Great photos and a nice account of your visit. Greetings from Luxembourg! #CityTripping

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    1. Haha that's probably true! There's nothing in Arizona that looks like the scenery at Kylemore Abbey.

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  10. This looks beautiful and wonderful to hear the history behind the abbey. I’d love to explore more of Ireland and this would certainly be on the list! Thanks for linking #citytripping

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    1. The history of the abbey is so fascinating! I hope you're able to make it there someday.

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  11. Kylemore Castle looks like an absolute dream!! I want to go explore Ireland and it's beautiful castles so badly. Until then I am living vicariously through these posts!!

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    1. It's such a beautiful place! Hopefully you'll make it there someday!

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Thanks for stopping by!