Complete Guide to Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Gardens in 2024

The front castellations of Kylemore Abbey in County Galway
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Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful Abbey and Gardens in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.

Originally known as Kylemore Castle, it was a private home until 1920 when it was taken over by Benedictine nuns who still live here.

Visitors are welcome to visit the Castle, with its dramatic crenellations, as well as the Victorian Walled Garden, which hosts a wide range of planting and stunning views.

If you’re visiting Galway, Kylemore needs to be on your map. This guide will give you an overview of the grounds, tours that include Kylemore Abbey and how to get here on a self-organised itinerary.

The Abbey is one of Ireland’s top locations to visit. It’s on the Wild Atlantic Way, but also very reachable for visitors staying in Galway city in just over one hour’s drive. You can visit on a self-organised trip, or as part of a tour that takes in other nearby attractions. I’ve got you covered for both in this post.

Kylemore Abbey – A Potted History

When you first read about Kylemore Abbey, it’s unclear whether you should call it an Abbey or a Castle!

Kylemore Abbey across the lake
Kylemore Castle in the distance

The building that we visit today (and love to photograph) started life as Kylemore Castle. The 33-bedroom castle was built in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy English doctor, who became a politician, for his family. The interior is laid out as if the family was still in residence and I have to say it reminded me of the interior shots of Downton Abbey. In 1903, it was taken over by the Duke and Duchess of Manchester whose gambling debts led to the castle being sold in 1920 to the Benedictine order of nuns who still live on the grounds. There’s much more to discover on your visit!

Tours that visit Kylemore Abbey

A wide number of popular Day Trip Tours visit Kylemore Abbey, mainly departing from Galway and including other stops. Expect day trips to leave in the morning and take 7.5-9 hours.

From Galway – Guided tour of Connemara with 3 hour stop in Kylemore Abbey

9 hours, plenty of time at Kylemore Abbey

From Galway – Connemara Day Trip Including Leenane Village and Kylemore Abbey from Galway

7.5 hours, very highly rated

From Galway – Connemara Day Trip from Galway: Cong and the Kylemore Abbey

8 hours, great value

How to Visit Kylemore Abbey on Your Own

You can self-organise a trip to Kylemore Abbey very easily! You can include this as a key stop on your longer itinerary along the Wild Atlantic Way, or visit Kylemore Abbey from Clifden or Galway City, which are both close by (Galway is just over a one hour drive).

Adult Tickets – €17.00

Student Tickets – €13.50 – show a valid Student ID + be over 17

Student Tickets – €8.00 – Student from 13-16 years old

Senior Tickets – €13.50 – for ages 65+

Family Tickets – €40.00 – includes 2 x adults and 2-6 kids <16

Child – €0.00 – 12 years and younger

Tickets can be purchased from the Kylemore Abbey website here

What is included in your Kylemore Abbey ticket?

A standard ticket gives you access to the whole estate, allowing you to visited the restored rooms in the Abbey, the Neo-Gothic Church (see more below) and walks in the grounds. You also get access to the Victorian Walled Garden (including a shuttle bus) and guided garden tours in the summer months.

More about Kylemore Abbey

In 1920, the Castle and grounds were bought by a group of Belgian Benedictine nuns from Ypres who were escaping from the ravages of the First World War. It was at this point that Kylemore Castle transformed into Kylemore Abbey and this is the starting point for the excellent tours provided at Kylemore.

The front castellations at Kylemore Abbey Ireland
Kylemore Castle

Kylemore Abbey’s Victorian Walled Garden

The original gardens were established by Mitchell Henry’s head gardener, James Garnier, in 1870. For over 40 years, the gardens have been open to the public for tours and the Benedictine Community has restored both the gardens and the church through donations. A full restoration of the gardens began in the mid-1990s, the fruits of which can be seen today.

Map of Kylemore Abbey Ireland
Copyright: Kylemore Abbey Website

Mini-Gothic Church

Neo-gothic church at Kylemore Abbey Ireland
The Church

About 500 metres from the main building lies the small neo-gothic Church, build by Mitchell Henry in memoriam of his wife, Margaret, who passed away aged 45 from dysentery contracted on a family voyage on the Nile. It really is beautiful both inside and out and is nowadays the scene for religious services and concerts of one kind or another.

Interior of the neo-gothic church at Kylemore Abbey Ireland

Where to Stay near Kylemore Abbey

Here’s a few hotels to consider if you’re visiting Kylemore. I’ve visited the area with friends and stayed at Clifden Station House Hotel which I’d strongly recommend.

Hiking

With over 1,000 acres of woodland and park, Kylemore Abbey is an excellent place for a light hike or to follow a woodland trail. The official website marks out some of the walks that you can choose from.

Video Guide

Check out the video guide which includes detailed interior footage of Kylemore Castle:

YouTube player
RECOMMENDED HOTELS

Kylemore Abbey Area

Highly-Rated, excellent Spa

Delphi Resort, Co. Galway

Good Value, Harbour Views

Leenane Hotel

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Kylemore Abbey in Ireland?

Kylemore Abbey is in Connemara, County Galway in the West of Ireland.

How far is Kylemore Abbey from Galway?

If you’re driving from Galway City centre, it will take between 1h15m and 1h30m to reach Kylemore Abbey. There’s a large parking lot at the site, follow the signs for cars or camper vans.

How to get to Kylemore Abbey

As we say in Ireland, it depends where you’re coming from! Many visitors come to Kylemore Abbey from Dublin or Galway. Reaching Galway is straightforward from Dublin, so let’s discuss the route from Galway.

From Galway City Centre, take the R864 towards the N59. Follow the N59 for 56 kilometres, turn on to the R344 for 15km, left on to the N59 for 4 minutes, and then turn into the Kylemore Abbey estate.

Is Kylemore Abbey worth the visit?

Kylemore Abbey is not the oldest castle in Ireland, having been constructed in 1868, but it is one of the most striking and well-maintained. The castle has a sorrowful story to tell and it’s worth visiting to understand the history of this beautiful place.

How long does it take to visit Kylemore Abbey?

If you’re under pressure, you can visit the main buildings in 90 minutes. However, please take at least 2 hours to enjoy the buildings, grounds and see the neo-Gothic church on the estate. Gardening enthusiasts will want a further 30-60 minutes to take a tour of the gardens.

Can you stay overnight at Kylemore Abbey?

Although Kylemore Abbey is known to have had 33 bedrooms at the peak of its prowess, it is not possible for members of the public to stay there.

Are there still nuns in Kylemore Abbey?

Yes, there are still nuns in Kylemore Abbey! The present community of nuns took over the Abbey in 1920, and are linked to a Benedictine order of nuns from Brussels in Belgium.


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I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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