Featured image of Kylemore Abbey

The History of Kylemore Abbey

LocationPollacappul, Connemara, Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byThe Kylemore Trust
Official WebsiteKylemore Abbey
Rooms AvailableNo

Established in the heart of Connemara, founded by the Benedictine Nuns for over a hundred years, Kylemore Abbey is a place you’ll find both: History and Serenity. The 100-acre estate welcomes visitors from all parts of the world to experience the wonders of art, peace, and beauty.

Kylemore Abbey History

The first store of Kylemore Abbey was laid by Margeret Vaughan Henry, wife of Mitchell Henry in the year 1874. The Abbey soon became a private home to the family of Mitchell Henry, who later became an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885. The construction of the castle took more than four years which was designed by James Franklin Fuller. There were 33 bedrooms, four bathrooms, four sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room, and much more. The Abbey was fully equipped with various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper, chauffeur, and other servants. One of the most important buildings of the Abbey was the Gothic Church and family mausoleum where Margeret and Mitchell’s bodies are still stored.

In 1903, the castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester, William Angus Drogo Montague and Helena Zimmerman later known as Helena Keith-Falconer, Countess of Kintore when she remarried in later life. The couple stayed there a few years before selling it off to pay their gambling debts. The Abbey and subsequent lands did not remain empty for long. In the 1920s, it was purchased by the Irish Nuns who had fled to the city during World War 1. The nuns opened a huge boarding school and offered education to young catholic girls. In 1950, the nuns entered into a partnership with the University of Notre Dame, where they have been hosting academic programs for Notre Dame students.


Kylemore Abbey is known for its architecture and historical importance. The castle consists of the Abbey, Victorian walled gardens, Neo-Gothic Church, mesmerizing Dining area, an Events hall, and the Kylemore shopping centre, which offers a variety of handmade assortments. Kylemore Abbey begins with a welcome room which describes the history of the Abbey through pictorial representations. A further tour of the Abbey is facilitated by guides who describe each and every part of the castle with utmost detailing and romance. The Abbey also has Mitchell’s library, study, dressing room, an inner hall, and a saloon hall. Continuing towards the dining room, you will come across a morning room and wonderful interiors.

Kylemore Abbey in County Galway, Ireland.
Kylemore Abbey – detailed view”, by High Contrast, is licensed under CC BY 3.0 DE

Just a five-minute walk from the Abbey, along the shores of Lough Pollucapal, lies Kylemore’s enchanting neo-Gothic Church. The fourteenth-century church is described as a “cathedral in miniature” and a lasting testament to the love of Mitchell Henry for his wife, Margaret. Kylemore Abbey has a wonderful Victorian Walled Garden spread across 6 acres of land. The garden is divided into eastern and western parts, one part has the formal flower garden, glasshouses the head gardener’s house whilst the other side includes all kinds of different gardens. The garden included a shaded fernery which is a very important feature of the Victorian garden.

Kylemore Abbey - Gardens
Kylemore Abbey – Gardens”, by Larry Koester, is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Movie Features

Two Fat Ladies (1998) Season three of the famous TV series documentary “Two fat ladies” featured Kylemore Abbey in their third episode titled “Benedictine Nuns”.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many nuns are in Kylemore Abbey?

Kylemore Abbey has been home to Irish Nuns since the time of World War 1 when they fled to the city for protection. The Neo-Gothic Church is solely managed by the nuns of the Abbey, which were approximately forty in number but have now fallen to fourteen.

  • Why did Kylemore Abbey school close?

In February, the Benedictine order announced to shut down Kylemore Abbey school due to falling vocation numbers and subsequent controversies. The present number of nuns living in the church has also reduced to a mere count of fourteen in number.

Have you visited this castle before?? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.

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