This guide is about Kylemore Abbey, a beautiful place to stop off on the Wild Atlantic Way roadtrip, part of my Ireland Travel Guide. If you missed it, I visited Kylemore as part of my Mayo-Galway Itinerary in Ireland and right after Killary Harbour.
This blog is about Kylemore Abbey in County Galway, Ireland (Irish: Mainistir na Coille Móire). Click here for an overview of the entire route.
Summary: The Wild Atlantic Way is a 2,500km (>1,550 mile) tourist route along Ireland’s Western coastline, from Malin Head in Donegal in the North to Kinsale in the South. It connects significant historic, cultural and geographic features into a manageable road trip from staggering clifftop vistas to golden strands and stunning lighthouses.
Kylemore Abbey – History
When you first read about Kylemore Abbey, it’s unclear whether you should call it an Abbey or a Castle!
In fact, the building that we see online (and throughout this page) started life as Kylemore Castle. The 33-bedroom castle was built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy London doctor, for his family. The interior is mainly laid out as if the family was still in residence and I have to say it reminded me of the interior shots of Downton Abbey (which is filmed at Highclere Castle). In 1903, it was taken over by the Duke and Duchess of Manchester whose gambling debts led to the castle being sold.
BOOK TICKETS ONLINE FOR KYLEMORE ABBEY
Tickets were available on the day when I arrived at Kylemore Abbey, but I missed out on the chance to take a guided tour of the Castle and Victorian Walled Gardens. I went towards the end of the day, but it would make sense to get the most out of your tickets by booking more strategically.
Click here to find the official website.
In 1920, the Castle and grounds were bought by a group of Belgian Benedictine nuns from Ypres who were escaping from the ravages of the First World War. It was at this point that Kylemore Castle transformed into Kylemore Abbey and this is the starting point for the excellent tours provided at Kylemore.
The Interior – A Gallery of Images
Wild Atlantic Way
I was surprised that Kylemore Abbey was not a ‘significant discovery point’ on the 2,500km long roadtrip, the Wild Atlantic Way. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in County Galway, if not the whole West of Ireland. It’s not just the Castle or Abbey, the estate has two other major attractions worth exploring.
Victorian Walled Garden
The original gardens were established by Mitchell Henry’s head gardener, James Garnier, in 1870. For over 40 years, the gardens have been open to the public for tours and the Benedictine Community has restored both the gardens and the church through donations. A full restoration of the gardens began in the mid-1990s, the fruits of which can be seen today.
About 500 metres from the main building lies the mini-gothic Church, build by Mitchell Henry in memoriam of his wife, Margaret, who passed away aged 45 from dysentery contracted on a family voyage on the Nile. It really is beautiful both inside and out and is nowadays the scene for religious services and concerts of one kind or another.
With over 1,000 acres of woodland and park, Kylemore Abbey is an excellent place for a light hike or to follow a woodland trail. The official website marks out some of the walks that you can choose from.
Price of Entry
Price for entry (access to all parts of the estate mentioned above) is €15 for adults, €12.50 for students and pensioners, free for children under 16 and special prices apply for family groups.
Check out the video guide which includes detailed interior footage of Kylemore Castle:
where can i stay?
I camped at Clifden, Co Galway in my campervan after visiting Kylemore Abbey. Not tempted to camp? There are multiple options to stay nearby. Check out this list of options in Leenaun.
Further recommendations are below.