Standing along the edge of Kylemore Lake, the neo-Gothic Kylemore Abbey is every inch a storybook castle. Built in 1868, the abbey’s construction employed grateful locals still reeling from the Irish Potato Famine. Today, the resident Benedictine nuns welcome the public into parts of the abbey and the grounds.
The crenelated grey-stone silhouette of Kylemore Abbey is a striking sight amid the rugged, scree-patched hills of the west of Ireland. While you can admire and photograph the abbey and its scenic surrounds from the parking lot, an admission fee is required to enter the grounds. Entrance tickets provide access to the restored ground floor rooms of the abbey, the neo-Gothic church, and the Victorian walled gardens and teahouse, as well as to complimentary history talks and guided garden tours in summer. The abbey is often included on Connemara and Wild Atlantic Way bus and rail day tours from Dublin and Galway city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Most guided day tours do not include the price of admission to the grounds and gardens.
- Visitors without tickets can access the gift shop and café.
- The property is partially accessible to wheelchair users, though steps and steep gradients prevent access to some sections.
How to Get There
Kylemore Abbey is located along the N59 between Clifden and Westport. If you don’t have a car or aren’t comfortable driving along country roads, it’s easier to come by guided tour. A shuttle bus runs between the house and gardens.
When to Get There
Kylemore Abbey is open year-round; the garden teahouse is open from March through mid-November. Summer is a good time for lakeside picnics on the grounds, while the colder months showcase the barren beauty of the Connemara winter. June through September are peak visiting months. Arrive before 12pm or after 4pm to avoid crowds.
Romance and Tragedy at the Abbey
Part of the abbey’s greatest appeal is the romantic—and tragic—story behind its construction. No expense was spared by politician Mitchell Henry, who built the abbey for his wife, Margaret, after they had honeymooned in the area years before. Sadly for the Henrys, tragedy struck and in 1874, Margaret died after contracting “Nile fever” on a trip to Egypt. A heartbroken Mitchell had a mausoleum built here to house her remains as well as a beautiful neo-Gothic church dedicated to her memory.