The History of Kylemore Abbey

Picturesque, stunning and quite like something out of a fairy tale – Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey is a destination like no other. From its majestic Victorian architecture to the luscious hills and lough nearby, you’ll find it’s the perfect spot to take photo after photo. Located on the west coast of Ireland, this breathtaking site doesn’t just have great scenery, you’ll find it’s also rich in history…

Kylemore Abbey

According to tradition, newlyweds Mitchell and Margaret Henry visited Connemara for the first time on their honeymoon in the 1800s. They fell in love with the landscape and built the site (originally Kylemore Castle) between 1867 and 1871. For 40 years, Henry reclaimed bog land throughout the grounds, which greatly benefited the entire region both socially and economically.

In 1903, Kylemore Castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester. The couple lived a lavish lifestyle and chose to renovate their new home. Among changes were the removals of the Henrys’ German stained glass window, as well as large amounts of Italian and Connemara marble.

Today the Abbey is home to a community of nuns of the Benedictine Order. They first came in December 1920 after having had locations throughout Belgium, Ireland and England. In 1923, the nuns reopened their world-renowned boarding and day school for girls. This task involved transforming reception rooms once enjoyed by the Duke and Duchess into classrooms. They offered ‘all the advantages of a Continental education without the necessity for lengthened travel’.

As times changed and enrollment numbers decreased, the boarding school closed in 2010. The nuns have been working to establish new education and retreat endeavors, and the Abbey welcomes thousands of tourists each year.

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