This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

he Dawros River, rich in trout and salmon, divides this magnificent glacial valley, which has been settled for at least 50 centuries. Mitchell Henry built what is now

known as Kylemore Abbey, which dominates the valley today, for his wife, Margaret Vaughan from County Down. Te woods, which gave their name (Coill Mor – the big wood) to the valley, were almost entirely gone when they came here on their hon- eymoon. Charcoal burners had gobbled up the last of the tiny pockets of deciduous woodland growing on the small pockets of arable ground in their unappeasable hunger for fuel.

Mitchell Henry, a direct descendant of Patrick Henry the American Patriot, spent a vast fortune in demolishing the old Inn on the site and then in building Kylemore Castle and an extensive network of gardens, including a state of the art six acre walled garden, from scratch. In order to achieve this an entire vil- lage had to be demolished and its inhabitants relocated. He later built a miniature gothic cathedral, recently restored to the east of the castle, one of the jewels of Irish architecture.

Henry and his wife Margaret were good and generous landlords. While not backing the radical policies of Charles Stuart Parnell they were nevertheless active supporters of Land Reform. Henry later served Connemara with distinction as an MP. Tragedy was to strike the fam-


ily however when Margaret died of typhoid on a visit to Egypt. She and Henry are buried in a family vault on the grounds.

Te estate was sold to the Duke of Manchester and his American-born wife. Rather than relying on the traditional standby of human tenants they restocked the estate with 10,000 sheep and local farmers for 20 miles around are said to have relieved them of the new four-legged tenants.

Te estate survived the turmoil of the War of Independence and was finally bought by the Benedictine Nuns, returning from a 300 year exile on the continent. Te Nuns brought with them their work ethic, sense of discipline and thrift and have since wedded this to superb customer relations and great style. Tey have returned the estate to its old role as the engine room of the local economy, employing over 100 people. Te order has also spent lavishly on reforming the grounds, gothic church and gardens, not only restoring them to their formal glory but also acting as the perfect introductory spot on a visit to the nearby Connemara National Park.

Kylemore Abbey

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19