A trip to Connemara, Ireland is not complete with out a visit to the Kylemore Abbey. When I had visited the abbey, it was a wonderful addition to exploring one of Ireland’s loveliest natural landscapes.
Kylemore Abbey was originaly built as “Kylemore Castle” a private home in 1868 for an affluent doctor’s family from London, Mitchell Henry. His family was also in the textile manufacturing business in Manchester, England. His wife, Margaret, and the doctor moved to Ireland after purchasing land and after travelling to the area on their honeymoon. Henry had gotten into local politics and became an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885.
Kylemore Castle began construction in 1867 and designed by James Fuller and Samuel Roberts. It took four years and 100 men to complete it, finishing at over seventy rooms and 40,000 square feet. Inside this grand estate were 4 sitting rooms, a ball room, billiard room, study, library, smoking room, gun room, offices, 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and residences for domestic staff. Also on property is a small Gothic Church and family mausoleum with the bodies of Mitchell Henry, his wife Margaret and a great-grand nephew.
When Margaret died, Mitchel was extremely heartbroken and built the 14th-century style Gothic church in loving honor for his wife. After his wife’s passing, Mitchell was forced to sell the estate to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester due to his increasing gambling debts. Eventually the Duke had to sell the estate again due to his great spending and parties, which were more costly than maintaining Kylemore Castle.
The Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the castle and its lands in 1920 after they fled the Ypes during World War I. Today the nuns of Kylemore Abbey live and work on the property, promoting the social, spiritual, educational and cultural life of Connemara. There is also a program at the abbey for women who wish to become a Benedictine Nun.
On property there is a delicious café with traditional home-cooked food, that I truly enjoyed. The dishes of soups, stews, salads brown bread and baked goods have been a significant part of the Benedictine lifestyle. On my visit, I ordered a marvelous hot lunch of roasted chicken and root vegetables, which was comforting on that chilly day in Connemara.
Kylemore Abbey has a lovely gift shop and one of their specialty items is the handmade pottery. I had purchase a small bowl to help support the abbey as well as having a love for hand made things. Kylemore Abbey Pottery was established in 1973 by the Benedictine Nuns and there are many styles to choose from including cereal bowls, mugs, milk jugs, tea pots and candles.
For more information, please visit – Kylemore Abbey
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