Visit Kylemore Abbey during your next trip to County Galway, the jewel of Connemara's crown and a haven of history, beauty, and serenity.
For the past century, the Benedictine Nuns have created Kylemore Abbey as a space of reflection, education and welcome and today visitors from around the globe can embrace the magic of this magnificent 1,000-acre estate.
History of Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore was originally built by Mitchell Henry in 1867 as a gift for his wife Margaret and his hopes for his beloved Ireland. Mesmerized by the beauty of the local landscape, Henry poured his life’s energy into creating an estate that would showcase what could be achieved in the remote wildernesses of Connemara.
Later, the estate passed through the hands of the glamorous Duke and Duchess of Manchester who owned Kylemore for ten years but unfortunately after a strike of misfortune the couple went bankrupt and had to sell the estate.
Kylemore eventually became home to a Benedictine Community of Nuns in 1920 who were fleeing war torn Belgium. After arriving at the estate, the nuns got to work and opened a boarding school that first accepted international borders of all ages, before becoming a secondary school which ran up until the closure in 2010.
Today, the Benedictine Nuns remain residents in Kylemore Estate, living, working and praying while also continuing to provide a warm welcome to those who travel far and wide to learn more about this fascinating piece of Irish history.
Plan your visit to Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens
Located in the West of Ireland on the iconic Wild Atlantic Way and just over one hour from Galway City, Kylemore Abbey is easily accessible for anyone wanting to make the journey there.
Begin your day at Kylemore by discovering the new visitor experience which looks at the lives of the many generations of people who have passed through the Abbey’s solid granite walls. Their stories are brought to life in stunning fashion with the use of historical photographs, audio-visual presentations, displays of artifacts, historical costumes, and beautifully restored period rooms.
Outside, Kylemore Abbey's Victorian Walled Garden is an oasis of ordered splendor in the wild Connemara countryside for you to wander. Divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream, the garden features a vegetable patch, fruit trees, glasshouses, the head gardener's house, young oak trees and much more.
At the heart of Kylemore Estate is an ancient native woodland with hidden tracks and trails on one of Connemara's most spectacular mountain hikes, woodland and river walks. The very name “Kylemore” is derived from the old Irish place name “Coill Mór” meaning “Big Wood”. Explore and experience the beautiful scenery and learn about the fascinating folklore of Kylemore and Connemara.
When you’re looking for a moment of rest, you can stop by the café and enjoy locally sourced produce and traditional Irish recipes. From delicious and healthy soups, stews and salads to their famed scones, brown bread and apple pies, there is plenty of choice for you and your family to enjoy a true flavor of Kylemore.
Follow your delicious lunch with a spot of shopping in the Craft & Design store and find a special reminder of your visit to Connemara or a precious gift to bring home to someone you love. The shop sells a range of Irish products including a selection of Kylemore chocolate, soaps and artworks, all handcrafted by the Benedictine Nuns.
Kylemore Abbey’s handmade chocolate is created by Sr. Genevieve Harrington who had the idea to venture into chocolate making after the closing of the boarding school left the Home Economics kitchen vacant.
Sr. Genevieve enrolled in a chocolate making course and her treats soon became extremely popular. Over the years the Chocolate Kitchen has welcomed nuns and volunteers from around the world to learn the art of chocolate making under the guidance of Sr. Genevieve and the other chocolatiers, thus continuing the tradition of education and hospitality in Kylemore Abbey. Today the Chocolate Kitchen is thriving, producing a combination of Sr. Genevieve's original delicious chocolates and some newer innovative tasty treats.
While Sr. Karol, one of the longest-serving Sisters at Kylemore Abbey, has illustrated beautiful greeting cards which depict the peaceful Connemara Pony herd that reside on the estate. Sr. Karol has developed a special bond with Kylemore's herd of Connemara ponies and foals since their arrival three years ago and perhaps knows the individual ponies and their personalities better than anyone else.
Finally, look out for the host of talks and events that take place daily on the estate throughout the summer months. History talks, music recitals in the majestic neo-Gothic Church, garden tours, “behind-the -scenes tours” into the chocolate, soap and pottery production, and Connemara Pony talks are just some of the experiences you will be treated to.