Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful miniature cathedral, located in Connemara in County Galway. Built by a husband in tribute to his late wife, the cathedral is a treasure trove of Gothic architecture…. This one belongs to a larger building, which is the Kylemore Castle, an impressive Victorian castle, open to the public…
It all began in 1868, when a wealthy owner, Henri Mitchell, decided to build an imposing Victorian castle on the shores of Lake Kylemore, with a Benedictine abbey and a 3-hectare garden. He then commissioned the architect John Fuller to do the job, and asked him to hurry up and surprise his wife, Margaret Mitchell.
In November 1874, Mitchell Henry and his family went on a trip to Egypt. Unfortunately, his wife Margaret contracted dysentery and died on December 4th… Mad with grief, Henry Mitchell had his body repatriated to Kylemore.
Mad with sadness after the loss of his wife, Henri Mitchell asks his architect to change the plans of the abbey under construction, to make it an even more extraordinary place. For him, this construction must be a true tribute to the memory of his wife, even if it is totally disproportionate. For him it is obvious: this abbey will take on the appearance of a miniature cathedral.
He does not hesitate to import the most beautiful marbles (pink, green, ochre…etc), and calls upon the greatest craftsmen to create magnificent stained glass windows.
Henri Mitchell then asked his architect to build a mausoleum not far from the Abbey to house his wife’s body, a place he would join when he died.
On September 21, 1892, Henri Mitchell tragically lost his daughter Géraldine. She drowns in Kylemore Lake, leaving a father collapsed behind her.
Henri Mitchell no longer had the heart to live in this great empty castle, which brought back so many good and bad memories.
This new death, as well as financial difficulties, lead Mitchell Henry to sell Kylemore Castle and his estate. Marked by his painful events, he decides to leave Kylemore.
In order to finance the maintenance of the site, the sisters reopened the castle and the abbey to the public, thus ensuring the continuation of the site.
To enter the Kylemore site, you will be required to pay an entrance fee of €13 per person. You will then have access to a tour of the castle, and then you can take a small path to the right of the building to access the Kylemore Abbey. As you pass by, you will come across the mausoleum where the Mitchells are buried on the left side of this path.
The entrance to the abbey is free and you can discover the beauty of the architecture of this small scale cathedral. Do not hesitate to admire the stained glass windows, the different marbles used for the columns supporting the nave, as well as the small cemetery located outside the abbey, where the Benedictine sisters who once lived here rest.
If you enjoyed the visit, feel free to extend it by visiting the wonderful Kylemore garden, accessible by a small bus that runs every 30 minutes (the price of the return trip is included in your entrance fee). On the program, greenhouses, vegetable gardens, and Victorian gardens with trees: a real marvel!
every day from November to mid-March from 9.20 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the rest of the year.