In the heart of Connemara, overlooking picturesque Kylemore Lough, stands the nineteenth century Kylemore Abbey in all its Gothic Revival splendor. Built in 1871 by a wealthy English doctor as a gift to his wife and nine children, it later became a Benedictine monastery providing safe harbor to nuns fleeing war-torn Belgium in WWI. Until recently (2010), it also served as an international boarding school for girls. Equally impressive are the six acres of Victorian gardens on the abbey grounds, accessible via shaded woodland paths. Visitors will also find a charming little church, a café and teahouse, and a craft shop where Kylemore’s very own Pottery line is sold. This pottery features the delicate red and purple fuchsia blooms found so abundantly in the hedgerows of Ireland--as seen in the foreground of the photo above.
This picture is perhaps testament enough to what makes Kylemore special. When beauty is combined with remoteness and tranquility—characteristics that best define Connemara itself—it’s no wonder that the abbey, about an hour’s drive from Galway, remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in western Ireland.
For the more adventurous, there are one- or three-hour guided mountain hikes available, which allow visitors to trek along rediscovered trails the original family used for hunting and entertainment. (Advance booking is recommended.) Contact the Kylemore Abbey Visitor Center at: firstname.lastname@example.org.