The first full sunny day of our holidays beckoned us to visit Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Gardens. It is simply beautiful, and if you are in Connemara it is well worth the visit. www.kylemoreabbeytourism.ie Admission for our family of five was 33 euros (about $40). The first worker we came across was a lovely Irish girl who informed us that midgets (very annoying, small mosquito like bugs) love the Connemara area, and that the best defense for them was spraying on Skin So Soft (an Avon product)! She kindly handed us her bottle and said “here, you can spray your family”. So then we were armed to enjoy our day at the Gardens.
Kylemore Abbey sits on 1000 acres with woodland, lakeshore, and the largest Victorian walled garden in Ireland. The castle was built in 1867 by Mitchell Henry (as a romantic gift!) for his wife Margaret. Tragically, Margaret died in 1874. In 1877 a Gothic Church was built on the property as a memorial to her. It is often described as a cathedral in miniature due to its proportions. It is beautiful, with pillars of stone from the 4 provinces of Ireland: red Cork marble from Munster, black Kilkenny marble from Leinster, green Connemara marble from Connaught, grey Armagh marble from Ulster.
The 6 acre walled gardens have been restored to some of their 1870s majestic splendor. They only have plants and vegetables which grew in Victorian times, growing them all from seed on the grounds. So far, two of the original 21 glass houses have been restored. I was surprised to learn of the exotic fruits they used to grow in them. Fruits such as bananas, melons, grapes, and figs were grown and sometimes shipped to England. The garden is divided into two areas; a kitchen garden and a flower garden, with trees and a stream dividing the two.
Since 1920 Kylemore has been home to a community of nuns of the Benedictine Order. They are the directors of the Kylemore Trust, keeping a close eye on how the Kylemore estate is run today. In addition to their spiritual daily routine, they run their farm and make handcrafted products such as soaps, sweets, and jams.
This is just a small glimpse! There really is so much more to this beautiful gem of an estate. It is well worth a visit. We were very lucky to have a lovely sunny day to explore the grounds, and some Skin So Soft to protect us from the bugs 🙂
I must get back to my garden plans … they need some adjusting after this visit!
View of Kylemore Castle from the far side of the lake. In order to preserve the family’s privacy, Mr. Henry had the main road re-routed to the far side of the lake, and used the original road, which runs in front of the castle, as his personal access road around the estate.
The Gothic Church. Note the stone which comes from around Ireland.
The Gothic church is often described as a cathedral in miniature.
View around the lake at Kylemore Abbey.
The gardens captivated me! They were incredibly neat and tidy, with so many different sections! I’ve tried to give a glimpse of as much as I could. We were lucky to manage some photos with very few people – it’s just how the flow of people moved. I hope you like the little virtual tour!
The flower garden side of the walled gardens.
Flower garden side of walled gardens. The designs are exactly as they were in the original gardens.
The kitchen garden side of the walled gardens.
View of the mountains from the kitchen garden side of walled gardens.
Some of the cold frames. All of the plants at Kylemore are started from seed on the grounds.
A splash of color.
Couldn’t resist a picture of a purple flower…