Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden Originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history. Learn of tales of tragedy, romance, engineering initiatives and royal visits. It became home to a community of Benedictine Nuns in 1920 and has been renowned as a place of spirituality and education.
The story of Kylemore – both Castle and Abbey – is a truly remarkable one. The twists of fate which have marked its history at crucial moments from its beginning to the present day combine to create a colourful and moving history. Kylemore is located in Connemara, in the west of Ireland and its greatest attraction is its location.
Nestled at the base of Druchruach Mountain (1,736ft) on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul, the heart of the Connemara Mountains, it is regarded as one of Ireland’s most romantic buildings. Originally built in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history including engineering initiatives, model farms, tragedy, royal visits, gambling debts, a hideaway during Ireland’s troubled history as well as excellence in education.
Today Kylemore Abbey and the estate are open to visitors all year and the main areas to be visited are; the Abbey, the Gothic Church, the Victorian Walled Gardens, the Craft Shop, Pottery studio, Restaurant and Tea Rooms as well as the Lake and Woodland walks.photo above courtesy of Robert Riddell
Victorian Walled Gardens at Kylemore Abbey Connemara
One mile west of the main Abbey building are the 6-acre Victorian Walled Gardens, built by Mitchell Henry at the same time as the construction of Kylemore Castle between 1867 and 1871.
This garden was one of the last walled gardens to be built during the Victorian period in Ireland and is the only garden in Ireland that is located in the middle of a bog. The garden was so advanced for the time that it was even compared with Kew Gardens in London.
Huge engineering feats were successfully employed to heat the 21 glasshouses that were originally built to house exotic fruits and plants. These glasshouses were heated by three boilers, one of which doubled as a limekiln, and a complex system of underground hot-water pipes measuring 1,538 meters (5,000 feet) in length.
However, in later years, under the ownerships of The Duke and Duchess of Manchester and then Ernest Fawke, the garden went into decline. In time the Flower Garden became a wilderness and the glasshouses collapsed, leaving only their brick bases.
In 1996, the Benedictine Community, who have always used the garden, began restoration works with the help of grant aid, large bank loans and the generosity of donors. To date, two of the glasshouses have been rebuilt along with the Head Gardener’s House and Workman’s Bothy.
The Garden was re-opened in 1999 and won the prestigious Europa Nostra Award in 2002. Uniquely, only plants and vegetables which grew in Victorian times are grown in the garden today.
Currently, we have a vinery, banana trees, vegetables and herbs that are used in the restaurant for lunch as well as a beautiful array of plants and flowers.
There are walks signposted around the main gardens with details about each of the highlights just mentioned and another that brings you outside the garden walls and back to the Tea Rooms.
A shuttle bus runs every 15 mins to the Garden from or alternatively, visitors may take the 20 minute woodland walk to reach them. The Tea Rooms have recently been re-opened and serves refreshments with freshly homemade delights from May to September for visitors to sample whilst enjoying the view of the magnificent Diamond Hill.