Kylemore Abbey is one of the most striking and popular attractions in Connemara, the western region of Ireland and one of its Gaeltachts. Located at the base of the Druchruach Mountain and on the shores of Lough Pollacappul, it is difficult to decide what is more beautiful: the abbey or the surroundings. Today visitors arrive to tour Kylemore and see the abbey, the Gothic church, the walled gardens, the tea rooms, the Kylemore Abbey Sacred Heart Statue, and the woodland walks. Located just one hour from Galway City, many visitors who want to get away from the bustle of the city choose Kylemore Abbey as their one major attraction to see in Connemara.
If you want to tour Kylemore, this attraction is open seven days per week, all year round. Opening times vary depending on the season but generally Kylemore opens between 9 and 10 am and closes between 4:30 and 7 pm. Expect the shortest hours to be in winter time and the longest hours to be in the summer. The entry fee also changes depending on the season, though children under 12 are always admitted free. There are discount family day passes as well, for groups of two adults and two children. The abbey is easily reached from Galway, particularly if you have a car rental.
Prior to its life as an abbey, Kylemore was built as a private castle. Construction was completed between 1863 and 1868. The castle had more than 70 rooms, 33 of which were bedrooms. In 1920, the castle became a Benedictine Abbey. The nuns who reside there were forced from their home in Belgium at the beginning of World War I and were moved to Kylemore Abbey. In 1932, the nuns erected a Kylemore Abbey Sacred Heart Statue halfway up the steep mountainside. They put up this statue as a thank you for their safe transfer to a new home. Today, visitors see four rooms that have been restored to preserve the character of the landscape. Many guests also say that their favorite part of visiting the Abbey is the spectacular views from the windows.
When you tour Kylemore, you also get to see the Gothic church. Construction on the church began in 1877, and it wasn’t completed until 1881. Mitchell Henry built the beautiful church in memory of his wife, Margaret, who died only a few years after the construction of the castle was complete. The church was built to resemble a cathedral in miniature. The only feature of the complex that visitors love more than the church is the Victorian walled gardens. Located one mile west of the Abbey, the gardens stretch across six acres. Visitors love the gardens not only to go for a stroll but for its tea rooms. Enjoy the great Irish tradition of afternoon tea while gazing out at a beautiful landscape.
From the Kylemore Abbey Sacred Heart Statue to the castle to the gardens, this complex has one beautiful sight after the next. Thousands of people venture into Connemara each year to experience its beauty, from the village of Clifden to Killary Harbour. If you’re hungry when you arrive, the Mitchell Henry restaurant serves a variety of traditional Irish dishes. The abbey is also famous for its pottery and craft shop. If you’re looking to bring home a special Irish-made gift for your friends or family, this gift shop has many unique items to choose from. Your trip to Kylemore Abbey is sure to be one of your fondest memories of an adventure to the west of Ireland.