Kylemore Abbey is a space as peculiar as little known. This Irish abbey is more than a place with history. Although his life is not very long by the standards of the old continent, only about 150 years, he has lived quite intensely.
History of the Kylemore Abbey
The story of this abbey begins when a honeymoon couple from Manchester went to Ireland. Mitchell and Margaret Henry arrived at a land that was once a hunting ground. There was only a small building there, Kylemore Lodge.Kylemore Abbey - Jan Miko
Margaret liked Connemara so much that her husband, when he received his father's inheritance, left the surgeon's career. Then he acquired 6,000 hectares of land with its lake, forests, etc. So, finally, He gave him a magnificent gift: a beautiful castle that was built between 1867 and 1871.
Building Kylemore in an area of wild land was a great work. The maximum technology of the time was used and was not repaired in expenses. The walled Victorian garden was the largest in Ireland. There were 21 greenhouses heated by water pipes.
In 1893 the castle was able to generate its own hydroelectricity, using the water of Lake Touther. Kylemore in his time had even his own fire brigade. Also, this marriage was quite generous. He had about 300 workers living on his land, paying them more than average for his work. And they founded a school for their children, so they were much appreciated.Kylemore Abbey - Cenz07
This couple had nine children and they were happy. So until in 1874 Margaret, on the return of a trip to Egypt, became ill with dysentery and died. Between 1877 and 1881 his widower built a miniature cathedral. It was a small neo-Gothic church in which gargoyles and strange animals were replaced by smiling angels, birds and floral patterns.
"The most difficult is not the first kiss but the last."
- Paul Géraldy -
The end of the Henry
Upon Mitchell's death, in 1910, his ashes were taken to Kylemore and laid with the remains of his late wife. But before he died Mitchell Henry had sold the castle to his friends the Dukes of Manchester.Kylemore Abbey - cc-by-sa / commons.wikimedia.org
At that time, Edward VII, the king of England, visited the castle with the queen and Princess Victoria. There is a rumor that the monarch intended to acquire the place. But in the end he thought it was very expensive even for a king.
The Duke of Manchester was a game addict. So, it didn't take long to get ruined after the purchase. Thus the castle soon passed into the hands of a London speculator. It seemed that after Margaret died, the place suffered a curse.
The castle becomes Kylemore AbbeyKylemore Abbey - Izabela Miszczak
The castle ended up becoming the Kylemore Abbey. It happened when a community of Belgian nuns of the Benedictine order arrived in 1920. They bought it after the Ypres abbey in Flanders was bombed by the Germans in World War I.
The nuns undertook a profound restoration of all Kylemore spaces. In the case of the castle, it was very touched up by the dukes. Thus the Gothic church, and a garden finally returned to look like in its past.
The Kylemore Abbey School
This Benedictine community opened its doors in 1923. It did so by being a boarding school for girls that soon attracted Irish daughters of the nobility. Then he did the same with the daughters of celebrities from around the world. Among her most recognized students are Angelica Houston and the princesses of India, daughters of the Marajá Ranjit.Kylemore Abbey - Lukasz Pajor
In 2010 the last final exams of a school that is currently closed were made. Despite this, the Benedictine community still lives there, in spaces, yes, closed to tourist visits.
Currently you can visit the spaces open to the public. This is the case of the halls in which the Henry, Dukes of Manchester and the nuns lived. Also the Gothic church and the Henry's mausoleum, as well as the imposing walled Victorian garden, of the few that exist that we can reach by bus or walking for about 20 minutes.
In the castle there is an audiovisual, or we can take a guided walk in which the story is told, as well as make some routes through the mountains of Kylemore, being able to reach the statue of the Sacred Heart and visit the valley of Kylemore or the lakes of Connemara. A place as we said at the beginning of not much history, but very busy.