July 2, 2011

0 Ireland! Kylemore Abbey, Connemara

Kylemore Abbey is enviably situated in County Galway, just on the edge of the Connemara region- a lush region of mountains, rivers, and valleys.

It doesn't look like your average abbey, and for good reason- it wasn't intended to be one.  In 1849 Mitchell and Margaret Henry visited Connemara for their honeymoon, falling in love with the landscape and region.  Returning in 1862 and leasing Kylemore Lodge, they began construction of their own Kylemore Castle in 1867.  Sadly, in 1874, Margaret Henry died while on holiday in Egypt.  The castle was purchased by the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1903, but they lost it to foreclosure in 1913.  It was finally given new life by Benedictine nuns who purchased it in 1920.  Tours are available, and while pricey, they also include the extensive gardens.  We'd have liked to spend some time exploring, but we felt pressed to move on with our Ireland tour- so we continued through Connemara.

The view over the lake at Kylemore.

Two lucky Kylemore residents!

As we drove around we noticed that almost every house has a wall of some sort surrounding it and most have statues (commonly eagles, but also lions, etc.) on the columns flanking the driveway.  This family clearly prefers a more realistic approach!

The River Corrib in Galway.  We spent a few hours in the town, wandering the pedestrian area and having lunch.  Galway has a fantastic reputation as a charming, festive place, which it did fulfill.  It was also packed with tourists, though, which was partly due to the time of year and, I'm afraid, partly due to the reputation being so pleasant!

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