Kylemore Abbey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kylemore Abbey
Mainistir na Coille Móire
Kylemore October 2014-2a.jpg
Kylemore Abbey with Doughruagh behind
Kylemore Abbey is located in Ireland
Kylemore Abbey
Location within Ireland
Monastery information
DioceseGalway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora
Founder(s)Benedictine nuns from Ypres, Belgium
LocationConnemara, County Galway, Ireland
Coordinates53°33′42″N 9°53′22″W / 53.5617067°N 9.8894343°W / 53.5617067; -9.8894343Coordinates: 53°33′42″N 9°53′22″W / 53.5617067°N 9.8894343°W / 53.5617067; -9.8894343
Public accessYes
Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey (Irish: Mainistir na Coille Móire) is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The abbey was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium in World War I and since 2022 belongs to the English Benedictine Congregation.[1] The current Mother Abbess of the Benedictine Community is Máire Hickey.


Kylemore Castle was built in 1868 as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London whose family was involved in textile manufacturing in Manchester, England. He moved to Ireland when he and his wife Margaret purchased the land around the Abbey, after having travelled there on their honeymoon in the mid 1840s. He became a politician, becoming an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885. The castle was designed by James Franklin Fuller, aided by Samuel Ussher Roberts.[2] The construction of the castle began in 1867, and took the total of one hundred men and four years to complete. The castle covered approximately 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) and had over seventy rooms with a principal wall that was two to three feet thick. The facade measures 142 feet (43 m) in width and is made of granite brought from Dalkey by sea to Letterfrack, and of limestone brought from Ballinasloe. There were 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. Other buildings include a Gothic church and family mausoleum containing the bodies of Margaret Henry, Mitchell Henry and a great grand-nephew.

The Abbey remained in Henry's estate after he returned to England. The castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1903, who resided there for several years before being forced to sell the house and grounds because of gambling debts. In 1920, the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres during World War I. The nuns, who had been based in Ypres for several hundred years, had been bombed out of their Abbey during World War I. They were rescued by men of the 8th Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, a scene that was later reproduced in the Freeman's Journal. After they left Ypres they were evacuated to England where they remained until 1920. The nuns continued to offer education to Catholic girls, opening an international boarding school and establishing a day school for girls from the locality. The school was the main educational establishment for most girls from Renvyle, Letterfrack and further afield for almost a century but it was forced to close in 2010.[3][4] The nuns have since been developing new education and retreat activities.

At the General Chapter, that was held in July 2022 at the Buckfast Abbey, the Kylemore Abbey was accepted to the English Benedictine Congregation alongside with two other new communities of nuns: Mariavall Abbey from Sweden and Jamberoo Abbey from Australia.[1]

University of Notre Dame - Kylemore Abbey Global Centre[edit]

Since 2015, the Abbey has a partnership with the University of Notre Dame of the US. The abbey hosts academic programmes for Notre Dame students, and the university renovated spaces in the abbey.[5] The programmes started in 2016 with about 100 students moving to Kylemore, a dedication ceremony was attended by Fr. Timothy Scully, Justice Peter Kelly(President of the High Court of Ireland) and Mother Abbess Máire Hickey OSB of Kylemore, as well as the US and Canadian ambassadors.[6] Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, some of its executive business programme, such as the Inspirational Leadership course at kylemore.[7] The art en plein air class and flute master class by Sir James Galway were also hosted in Kylemore.

The Kylemore Abbey Biodiversity Stewardship Programme commenced in 2021 in partnership with the School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway, to document and allow students to research the biodiversity of the Kylemore estate.[8]


The Estate includes large walled Victorian Gardens. Since the 1970s these have been open for public tours and nature walks. The Benedictine community has restored the Abbey's gardens and church with donations and local artisans in order to be a self-sustaining estate. The gardens include a Kitchen Garden and a flower garden, the original walled garden was laid out by head gardener, James Garnier in 1870.[9] A complete restoration commenced in 1995.[10]

Walled Victorian Gardens, Kylemore Abbey

In the Media[edit]

Kylemore Abbey was featured in the UK cooking show Two Fat Ladies, Series 3 Episode 1 "Benedictine Nuns" (1998). The host cooks Jennifer Paterson & Clarissa Dickson-Wright, cooked dinner for the Benedictine nuns that live, work and worship at the abbey. Kylemore Abbey and the nuns featured on RTE's Nationwide TV programme in 2020, to celebrate 100 years of the Benedictine order at the abbey.[11] Kylemore also featured in Heaven Made, which follows nuns and monks making traditional gifts for Christmas.[12]

View of Kylemore Abbey from afar
Kylemore Abbey

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "English Benedictine Congregation welcomes three new communities". Retrieved 26 July 2022.
  2. ^ Kylemore Abbey originally Kylemore Castle, National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, 1 October 2015
  3. ^ Kylemore Abbey school to close, Irish Times, 7 February 2006
  4. ^ Kylemore Abbey: The School Years
  5. ^ ENR/PAZ // University Communications: Web // University of Notre Dame (8 May 2015). "Notre Dame announces new partnership at Kylemore Abbey in Ireland // News // Notre Dame News // University of Notre Dame".
  6. ^ Notre Dame announce Kylemore Abbey will be new a new Irish Campus Culture, Education, Irish Central, August 26, 2016.
  7. ^ Inspirational Leadership at Kylemore The Economist, October, 16, 2018.
  8. ^ Kylemore Abbey and NUI Galway announce Biodiversity Stewardship Programme NUI Galway, August 19, 2021.
  9. ^ Kylemore Abbey Garden Garden Visit.
  10. ^ Kylemore Abbey Gardens: An Irish garden that ‘is one of earth’s wonders’ Finest Gardens in Britain, Country Life, February 13, 2021.
  11. ^ Nationwide RTE, March 3, 2020.
  12. ^ Heaven Made Series 1, Episode 1, BBC/Objective Media Group, December 2021.

External links[edit]