Kylemore Abbey and Gardens

Discover Kylemore Abbey in the Connemara National Park

Kylemore Abbey and Gardens

Situated within the 5000 acres, Connemara National Park is Kylemore Abbey, a building with an almost fairy-tale appearance. However, the story of how it came about is almost a fairy tale, so perhaps it's unsurprising.

Connemara is on the west coast of Ireland and juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. It has a wild, rocky coastline. It is a vast expanse of mountainous, poor quality, boggy, stony ground very difficult to cultivate although scenic. The inhabitants eked out a living by fishing and turf cutting. Ultimately it was the spectacular backdrop of Connemara that instigated the building of the property.

Stay at Ashford Castle Hotel and take a day trip to the romantic and active monastery within the stunning surroundings of Connemara National Park. See the Gothic church, famous Victorian walled gardens and serene interiors.

Fairytale Kylemore Abbey

A brief history of Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Castle
Tucked away at the base of the Druchruach Mountains, it was known initially as Kylemore Castle. Built-in late 1867 by a wealthy London doctor, Mitchel Henry, he did it as a token of love for his wife. They had spent their honeymoon in Connemara, fell head-over-heels in love with the Kylemore area, and resolved to make it their home. On inheriting the family fortune, Mitchel bought 15,000 acres and set about creating this magnificent castle and the adjacent buildings, including a Gothic church and a family mausoleum.

The Victorian Castle
Construction began in 1867. Using granite from Dalkey and limestone from Ballinsloe, it took 100 men four years to complete. Covering some 40,000 sq ft (3,700m2), it had 70 rooms, including 33 bedrooms, four bathrooms, four sitting rooms, a billiard room, a ballroom, and a gun room. Don't forget the schoolroom and domestic staff quarters. 

Castle to Abbey
The family sold up in the early 1900s to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester, who lived there for only a few years before the Duke's gambling debts forced them to sell. Bought by Irish Benedictine nuns in 1920, they opened a boarding school and day school for local girls, which continued to operate for 90 years before closing in 2010. 

Once again, an educational establishment established a partnership with the University of Notre Dame in 2015.

Kylemore Abbey Gardens
A hidden gem is the Abbey's six-acre Victorian Walled Garden. Created against the odds, in the middle of a bog, this was no casual undertaking. The Henry's planned the garden with the same degree of thought given to the Abbey; twenty-one greenhouses were built with three massive boilers supplying hot water via 5,000 ft of underground pipe to the greenhouses were exotic fruits and plants thrived. Tended by a large team of gardeners, the garden was considered the equal of Kew Gardens in London.

Under subsequent owners, the gardens became neglected and overgrown; the greenhouses collapsed. 

Interest in the gardens was revived in 1996 by the Benedictine community who, assisted by donations and a supportive bank, began the task of restoring the gardens. Two of the greenhouses were restored along with other buildings, and the gardens started to take shape.

Today the gardens feature a vast array of flowers, vegetables, and herbs plus a vinery. The produce is used in the restaurant. 

Touring and accommodation
Kylemore Abbey and the walled gardens Gardens feature in our Classic Ireland Tour. The magnificent scenery ensures that it's a visit you will never forget. However, we can always customise our service to reflect any specific interests or requirements you may have. 

Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park make a lovely day tour from nearby Ashford Castle Hotel. Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate is an alternative luxury golf resort close to the lively city of Galway. Please see our customisable itineraries on our Private Tours of Ireland page. 

Fairytale Setting

The Victorian Castle turned into an Abbey

  • Private Guided Tours
  • See the Victorian Gardens
  • See the Gothic Church
  • Tour the Connemara National Park
  • Guided Local Walks

Help us make your trip exceptional

Our UK and EU office based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.

Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.

We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.

We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.

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