Our hostess was so kind and offered us tea and coffee while we waited on our rooms. Rebecca actually fell asleep while we waited! We decided to drive up to Kylemore Abbey. It would be the only opportunity for us and it came highly recommended. Let me mention that my dad lived in Ireland for a couple of years and was able to give us great advice on what to visit. The drive through Connemara was so beautiful. The landscape was wild, rugged and dramatic. Much different then most of the Irish countryside. I seem to prefer the more wild and rugged landscape. There is just something so intriguing about it.
It was an experience driving through Connemara. At one point we almost went over a cliff into a lake! At our first glance of Kylemore I remember thinking how striking it was against the landscape. I would recommend visiting to anyone who has the opportunity. One thing I did learn is that student cards are golden! I was able to get discounts off of every attraction we visited on our trip.
Kylmore's history began with Henry Mitchell who took his new bride to Connemara for their honeymoon. It is said that Margaret fell in love with the area. When Henry came into a sizeable fortune he bought the land Kylemore is built on. Construction on the house began in 1867 and took four years to complete. In the mid 1870's Margaret died due to a fever she contracted on a visit to Egypt. A couple years later their daughter was killed in a accident involving a horse. Henry went back to England and sold the property to the Duke of Manchester, who resided there for a couple years before selling it. They were forced to sell it to pay off increasing gambling debts.
In the 1920's Kylmore and some its surrounding lands were purchased by Benedictine Nuns were converted it into a abbey. The nuns opened Kylmore Abbey as an international boarding school and day school for local girls (who were able to get a free education). There were some famous pupils that attending this school, American actress Angelica Heuston and some Indian Princesses. Due to a decrease in enrollment number the school had to close. The last students attending school sat for their exams in June of 2010.
In addition to the abbey there is also a church, mausoleum (Henry Mitchell and his wife are buried here), informal gardens, and gift store/ restaurant. We arrived just in time for lunch. I had a chicken wrap and I was disappointed in it. The chicken was bland and dry, but Rebecca enjoyed her food. You can only tour the 1st floor of the abbey. I was a little disappointed, but I have discovered that is how it is with a lot of historic buildings. The grounds and trails were lovely to walk, even in the dizzily rain. It's costs 12.50 euros for an adult, 9.00 euros for a senior, 9.00 euros for a student. Children under the age of 10 get in free. Also, if you buy your tickets from the website (http://www.kylemoreabbeytourism.ie/) you will receive 10% off your ticket!
The formal gardens were pretty. There is a shuttle available if you prefer not to walk. This is the only part of the grounds were this was available, so be prepared to walk!
We toured as much as we could before we were hit by some serious jetlag. We were in bed by 6pm and we were fully recovered by 8am the next morning. A long day on just 3 hours of sleep!
I fell asleep on the way back :)