Kylemore Abbey - Pollacappul
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was established in 1920, on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, it is located in Connemara, County Galway on the west coast of Ireland. The abbey was founded for the Benedictine nuns who were forced to flee Belgium in World War I. The Abbey sits amongst stunning scenery in this 1000 acre estate. It was initially built as a castle in 1867 as a romantic gift from Mitchell Henry to his wife Margaret. It is one of Irelands most popular and iconic tourist attractions, owing to its endearing past and remarkable history.
Visitors can enjoy the Victorian atmosphere in the Abbey as they stroll around the restored rooms where they will be transported back in time and learn all about the people who lived, worked and prayed in this gorgeous building. Amongst the rooms open to the public are the oak panelled Entrance Hall, the Inner Hall with its grand staircase, the Saloon Hall which has a glass ceiling that brings light into the house, it is one of several in the house. The Drawing Room, Morning Room and Dining Room are all decorated in the original style, see the grandeur of the furnishings, the antique furniture, original features and beautiful paintings.
The beautiful neo-Gothic Church is described as a "Cathedral in Miniature". It is a stunning building with beautiful architectural features both outside and inside. The Abbey has amazing acoustics and choirs from across the globe come to sing here. It is a beautiful experience and all are welcome to attend these choral performances, they are included in the entrance fee and take place regularly during the year.
The surrounding landscape of connemar lake is beautiful, as are the Victorian Walled Gardens, they were established in the late 1860's along with the Abbey. It is one of the last remaining great gardens of this era, and is the only garden in Ireland that is found in the centre of a bog. In the beginning the Gardens held twenty one heated glass houses producing all kinds of exotic fruit and vegetables which, were laid out in an exuberant way and heated by three boilers and a complex system of underground pipes. Following a sympathetic restoration process the gardens after lying derelict for many years were returned to their former glory and these magical gardens were re-opened in 2000. Amongst the renovations were the repair of two glass houses, the head gardeners house and the workers bothy. Visitors can meander through the stunning flower and vegetable gardens, fern walk, tree nursery and exquisite herbaceous border. Being a heritage garden all seed varieties date back to the 1800's and are available for the public to purchase. The grounds offer extensive woodland and lakeshore walks, and there are details about various highlights of the gardens dotted about.
Guests can join in with history talks and guided tours of the premises, where they wil discover tales of tragedy, romance, engineering initiatives, model farms, gambling debts and Royal visits. Also at the Kylemore Abbey School Exhibition, located opposite the entrance hall, visitors can learn the story of the highly regarded Kylemore Abbey Girl's School which, ceased operating in 2010.
The award winning Mitchell's Cafe and the tea house serve a range of delicious home-cooked food and delectable home-baked goods from recipes used and mastered by the Benedictine nuns. Fresh produce and herbs from the gardens are used in the preparation of the dishes served here.
The craft shop has a large collection of the best in Irish giftware including, artisan food products, knitwear, art and handcrafts made by the Benedictine nuns here at Kylemore, being chocolates, soaps and skincare products. Kylemore Abbey Pottery is made here in the on-site studio and available to purchase.
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden are open all year round. On average a visit is at least an hour and a half.