The Restored Gardens at Kylemore are a Must-See.

When it was built Kylemore Abbey, or Kylemore Castle as it was then known, had a magnificent walled gardenKylemore Abbey created alongside it. In the mid 1800’s a collection of exotic plants and a specially constructed garden to put them in was a statement that a Gentleman had money, taste and scientific knowledge.
It also gave them a higher profile on a social scale.

A wealthy Doctor from London, Mitchell Henry, who’s family wealth came from the textile business in Manchester bought the estate land around where the Abbey now sits and in 1868 started construction of the Castle and its gardens.No effort was spared in creating a magnificent home with more than seventy rooms, and the same must have been the case for the garden which once boasted 21 heated glasshouses and a workforce of 40 gardeners. One of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian period in Ireland, it was so Kylemore Abbey Gardensadvanced for the time that it was compared in magnificence with Kew Gardens in London. A mile west of the house, in the hottest and brightest spot in the grounds, Henry created an eight-acre garden. Part pleasure ground, part scientific experiment, the garden challenged both the local conditions and traditional estate management. Salt-laden wind and rain from the Atlantic stunt and shred planting in Connemara. Records suggest that Henry planted up to 300,000 trees a year over several years for shelter and for ornamentation. Some of the giant Cedars he planted are still there.

Sad Times

Sadly Mitchell Henry’s enjoyment of this magnificent estate was to fade when his beloved wife Margaret passed awayKylemore abbey garden from a fever caught in Egypt in 1874
Although he spent less time in Ireland after this sad event he built a beautiful Gothic Chapel built in the grounds as a mausoleum for his wife. The castle was sold in 1903 to the Duke of Manchester who soon had to sell it again to pay off gambling debts.

The Benedictine community that now live in the Abbey were forced to leave their home in Ypres during the 1st world war. They purchased the Abbey with a public loan and started teaching there in the 1920s.

Slow Decay Of An Expensive Luxury

The walled garden slowly became overgrown and eventually became little more than a kitchen garden for the Abbey for many years. The sheer size and complexity of the original garden made it difficult to maintain. People visiting the Abbey would visit what was left occasionally getting lost! The walled garden became a bit of a hidden secret.
Restoration of the gardens started in 1995 and huge amounts of time and effort were spent in an effort to restore the gardens accurately and as close to their original layout as possible. Some of the shrubs had taken over vast areas, and small box hedges had grown in to fifty foot trees. It took a lot of time to work out how everything used to be, and how it worked. There was at one stage a turf fired lime kiln that produced mortar for building and the excess heat was used to warm the greenhouses so the exotic plants could thrive. Apparently a pineapple used to cost the equivalent of thousands of pounds to produce, all to impress the dinner guests.

The Gardens Today

Comprised of roughly 6 acres, the Garden is divided in two by a beautiful mountain stream. The eastern half includes the formal flower garden, glasshouses the head gardener’s house and the garden bothy. The western part of the garden includes the vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery and herb garden. Leaving the Garden by the West Gate you can visit the plantation of young oak trees. The Garden also contains a shaded fernery, an important feature of any Victorian Garden. The self-guiding  panels will give you all the details you will need.

If you find yourself with nothing to do for the day why not go along and visit the gardens at Kylemore Abbey. Don’t worry if the weather is not great, it is well sheltered and has a climate of its own and very well sheltered. You will really enjoy your time there, it has a unique and peaceful atmosphere.

There is also a unique and very tasty range of cakes in the Café near the garden, and you will always find a special treat there to enjoy after your walk.
Remember if you have booked a property with Connemara Coastal Cottages you will get an email with discount codes for Kylemore Abbey and a number of other places that you might like to visit.