Tour one of Ireland's most romantic castles, which has been home to Benedictine nuns since 1920.
Set alongside a beautiful lake, Kylemore Abbey was originally built as a family home for Mitchell Henry in 1871. It later became an abbey when purchased by nuns fleeing from World War I Belgium. Since the 1970s, Kylemore Abbey has been open to the public. Today, it’s one of Ireland’s top attractions, offering a great day out for the whole family.
From spring through to late fall, you can take a short guided tour of the abbey. The tour takes in an audiovisual room, entrance hall, inner hall, drawing room, middle room and dining room. Though a fire ravaged the abbey in 1959, rooms have since been restored with antique furniture, fireplaces and flooring. You can also tour without a guide.
The Victorian Walled Garden is as popular as the abbey itself. The garden was created by Henry and is an astounding feat of engineering. It is built in bogland, and cleaved in two by a natural stream. Half of the garden is comprised of flowerbeds; the other half is used by the nuns to grow fruit and vegetables.
Since restoration began on the garden in 1996, it has regained its two glasshouses and the head gardener's house. Free daily guided tours of the garden take place between May and September, and twice daily in July and August. Also be sure to see the stunning Gothic church dedicated to Henry’s wife.
Set aside a day for your visit to the abbey in order to take in all that the attraction has to offer, including woodland walks around the estate, complete with children's play trail. Bring a picnic or enjoy a meal in one of the three dining venues.
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden is located in Connemara, approximately one hour's drive from Galway. Car parking is free. The entry ticket includes a booklet, the guided tour and access to the gardens. Both attractions open daily throughout the year. Check the website for specific opening hours.