In line with public health advice, Kylemore Abbey is currently closed.

The History of the Chocolate Kitchen at Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey and the various buildings throughout the estate have many stories to tell, since the first brick was laid in 1867 the estate has had to evolve and adapt to suit  the needs of the different eras . Although the estate is now in a slumber a little like the palace in sleeping beauty waiting for the spell of Covid 19 to be lifted it has always been a place both of consistency and change. One of the buildings that has seen several changes of use over the years is the one which today serves as our Chocolate Kitchen where our range of beautiful handmade chocolates are made. Originally we believe this would have been part of a complex of buildings that included stables, workshops, the fire house and some staff accommodation, that was during the era of Mitchell Henry then followed by the Duke of Manchester.

Following the arrival of the nuns in 1920, these buildings were used as the home Economics kitchen for Kylemore Abbey Girl’s School, which ran from 1922 until 2010. The very first Home Economics room was situated in Saint Maurs next to the lake on the Western avenue (pictured in a very early school brochure). A local woman Penelope (Nappy)Coyne (nee Joyce) recalled coming here as a girl in the 1930s to help the nuns make boiled sweets which they would sell to the small stream of visitors who came to see the Abbey. Nappy was amongst the very first day pupils at Kylemore, and she came to Saint Maurs to learn cookery and needlework. By the time her younger sister Eileen Keane (nee Joyce) began school  the home economics classes had moved to what we now call the Chocolate kitchen. Eileen remembers a large room with rows of work benches and a solid fuel stove at one end and recalls her father, who was a game keeper for the nuns coming to the kitchen with braces of rabbits strung over his shoulder which a Belgian nun, Sr Walbrugga, used, to teach the girls to make rabbit pie. Next door to the kitchen was the accommodation for the half boarders, girls from the local area outside walking distance to the school who stayed during the week and went home at the weekends.  The meals cooked each day in the Home Ec kitchen formed the evening meals for the half boarders.

               Former Kylemore Abbey pupils circa the 1940s

Apart from cooking another element of this building was the teaching of sewing and dress making which were essential skills for all young ladies and prospective homemakers. All kinds of garments were turned out from night-gowns to tapestried cushions and clothes of every variety.

Home Economics text books from the 1980s and 1970s

          Mrs Mary Smyth

The longest-serving Home Economics teacher at Kylemore was Mrs Mary Smyth who is very fondly remembered by her pupils. Mary thought of Kylemore from 1974 until 2001. She patiently taught several generations of girls everything from the composition of an egg, how to make and ice a Christmas cake and how to thread a sewing machine and sew on buttons guaranteed not to fall off! Personally, more than 30 years since first sitting in front of the singer sewing machines in Mrs Smyth’s class I can still fill a bobbin, thread the machine and sew a straight hem in no time and that is not a skill to be sniffed at! The craft items made in the Home Ec room went on display every year for parents day and were always a big part of the day along with all the paintings and drawings from the art room.

An example of the type of sewing patterns that were used from the 1940s onwards

Mary remarks that over the years the subject of Home Economics gradually changed with the times and became a subject with a greater emphasis on health and social issues rather than solely to impart domestic skills. In the past Home Ec was considered an essential although the less academic subject and certainly the girls looked forward to breaking from the monotony of the classroom to spend a few hours cooking or sewing in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

                 Pupils busy in the Home Ec Kitchen in the 1990s

Sadly it was not to last and by the year 2010 the school had closed and the Home Ec room lay empty though still complete with its workstations, fridges, sinks and cookers.

It was at that time that  Sr Genevieve Harrington was given the task of finding a way to utilize the now empty kitchens and somehow she came up with the idea of a small chocolate making venture.

Today Kylemore Abbey handmade chocolates are the most popular item in our Craft and Design Shop and the future use of this building is certainly decided for many years to come!

                                    Sr Genevieve filling caramels for the Luxury Selection

Former trustee and Board Member of Kylemore Trust, John Coyle to be honoured with an OBE

Congratulations to former trustee and Board member of Kylemore Trust, John Coyle who has been recognised today (10 October) in the Queen’s British Birthday Honours list.  He is being honoured with an OBE for his work with the RNLI and the Commissioners of Irish Lights, contributing to lifesaving and maritime matters over several decades, as well as to the development of British-Irish relations. 


John has served as a Trustee of Kylemore Trust for many years and continues to work with the Benedictine community to develop Kylemore Abbey and the philanthropic activities of the organisation. In June 2019, he was appointed a Knight of the Sovereign Order of Malta and has also served on many civic bodies in the west of Ireland, including Galway Chamber, Galway Race Committee, and Galway Harbour Company.


Congratulating John on this honour, Abbess of Kylemore & Chair of Kylemore Trust, Mother Máire Hickey OSB said: “John has been a great friend to Kylemore for many years and this signal honour for his commitment to public service is very well-deserved. We congratulate John, Sally and the Coyle family, as we give thanks for John’s continuing support, counsel and friendship to the Benedictine community.”

Breathtaking image of Kylemore Abbey in Ireland’s first Wiki Loves Ireland Top10

Kylemore Abbey features in the top 10 of this year’s  Irish round of the world’s biggest photography competition dedicated to natural heritage., Wiki Loves Earth. The breathtaking image entitled Kylemore Abbey Reflections by Diego Lopez has now been entered into the international competition!

Wiki Loves Earth (WLE) is an annual international photographic competition held throughout May and June, organized worldwide by Wikimedia chapters, groups, and local Wikipedia volunteers. Participants take pictures of local natural heritage and scenic landscapes in their countries and upload them to Wikimedia Commons. For all participating countries there are separate competitions organized by local teams, so periods, rules, prizes, etc. might differ a bit.

2020 is the first year that Ireland has taken part in Wiki Loves Earth, with the photography competition taking place during July.

Initiated by Wikimedia, the movement behind free encyclopedia Wikipedia, and run by the Wikimedia Community Ireland, the competition aims to raise awareness of Ireland’s protected sites and habitats and create a crowd-sourced bank of quality photos that will be free to use for education.

Amateur and professional photographers were invited to photograph national parks, nature reserves, and Special Areas of Conservation in their locality and upload their photos to Wikimedia Commons. Entries were judged by science communicator Dr. Niamh Shaw, academic at NUIG Dr. Caitriona Carlin, and Axel Pettersson of Wikimedia Sverige.

Dr. Shaw commented: “It was initially overwhelming to select the top 10 images. There were so many great images captured in Ireland.“It’s been so long since I’ve been in the real outdoors because of the lockdown, and reviewing all these stunning images, I had forgotten how beautiful our country is, even if the weather is a bit rubbish. So that was nice. Terrific standard of entries this year and congratulations to all involved.”

Check out the top 10 Ireland entries here:


Kylemore Abbey Reflections by Diego Lopez

Other Voices Courage 2020 TONIGHT

We are delighted to announce that the spectacular performances of Cormac Begley and Stephanie Keane in Kylemore Abbey’s neo-Gothic Church will feature on tonight’s episode of Other Voices Courage at 10:30pm on RTE2.
Known for his lively arrangements of traditional tunes on concertina’s from across the scales, Cormac was joined in the neo-Gothic Church by the wonderful Sean Nós dancer Stephanie Keane whose steps filled the historic building beautifully. The romantic and tragic history of the Church was echoed in the various styles of music that were performed n the church just a couple of weeks ago and we are delighted that it is now coming to your TV screens.
Also featured on tonight’s show is Fontaine’s D.C. coming from Kilmainham Gaol and Saint Sister & Crash Ensemble coming from the Guild Hall in Derry.
That’s not all folks! Make sure to set tonight’s show on series link as more of the beautiful performances from the neo-Gothic Church with Laoise Kelly and Anna Mieke feature in upcoming episodes of the wonderful Courage2020 series.

Kylemore Abbey to host worldwide showcase of top traditional Irish artists. Free online concert from the neo-Gothic Church

Other Voices “Courage” Live from the Gothic Church- Cormac Begley to be joined Laoise Kelly, Anna Mieke, and traditional dancer Stephanie Keane.


Thursday 16 July 2020, 8pm GMT  -online


We are delighted to host the Other Voices team and their new project ‘Courage’, which delivers uplifting, inspiring performances from brilliant artists to the public during the COVID-19 crisis.  Courage will beam these performances directly into homes across the nation and worldwide, from a number of iconic cultural locations.Their goal is to provide essential cultural output during this period. Music collapses distance in this time of isolation, it gives us courage, consolation and brings us together. ‘Courage’ series two has garnered a fantastic global response since it began on the 23rd of June, with concerts from renowned artists James Vincent Mc Morrow, Maija Sofia, Lankum, Kodaline, Cathey Davey among others.

Esteemed concertina player Cormac Begley comes from a traditional music dynasty in West Kerry, he has played across the globe and is involved in musical projects with other lauded musicians. Along with Traditional dancer Stephanie Keane he will perform in the Gothic Church tomorrow evening. Also joining us here at Kylemore, are world-renowned harpist Laoise Kelly, who was named TG4 Gradam Ceoil’s musician of the year in 2020 and singer-songwriter Anna Mieka whose critically acclaimed debut album ‘Idle Mind’ came out in 2019. Viewers will recognize her from the Normal People soundtrack.

The performance will be made available worldwide free of charge. We are so honored to showcase the finest of Irish talent in the stunning surrounds of the neo-Gothic Church.


Tune in tomorrow at 8PM via Other Voices’ YouTube + Facebook Live and RTÉ.ie to watch the show. Music for the head and the heart. 


Courage series two is currently being shown on Irish TV channel RTE2 Thursdays at 22.20.


Ready to Reopen

What you can expect from a day out in Kylemore Abbey this Summer

The day is almost upon us, when we can once again open the gates at Kylemore and welcome back visitors and friends to the 1,000-acre estate.

There has been changes to every part of everyone’s lives, Kylemore is no different. But we have made every effort to ensure that a visit to Kylemore is a safe, enjoyable, and uninhibited experience.

We are so grateful for the support and generosity shown to us down through the years and in the last few months in particular, and thank you for adherence to and consideration of the new guidelines we are implementing.

We are just delighted to be sharing this wonderful experience with you all again.

Kylemore Abbey Reopening July 3rd

The Kylemore estate will reopen on July 3rd in line with the Government Reopening Roadmap. 

On July 3rd Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden will re-open to visitors with some minimally restrictive access to buildings. The Abbey, Victorian Walled Garden and neo-Gothic Church will be open. Garden buildings and food and retail outlets will be allowing a limited number of visitors in at a time while observing social distancing. Visitors will get to embrace the natural wonders of the estate while also getting to enjoy the wonderful new visitor experience; “From Generation to Generation….the story of Kylemore”, as featured on the recent RTE show “Great Irish Interiors”, and get to indulge in the famous hospitality of the Kylemore Kitchen and the many homemade and Irish products sold in our Craft & Design shop. We will be encouraging visitors to get out and explore the wider estate which has blossomed beautifully over the last number of weeks, walk the beautiful tree-lined and lakeshore paths, and maybe even get to meet our new Connemara Ponies and foals, and comical Kune Kune Pigs.  
All of this will be done with the greatest consideration of public health guidelines to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff. 
Our Garden, Grounds and Maintenance Staff have been working hard since May 18th to make sure that the Estate is looking as beautiful as ever. They have also been working with our specially appointed Safety Advisor to ensure that all of the appropriate health and safety procedures are in place, allowing us to assure visitors of their safety and to offer them a care-free day out. 
Due to restrictions on groups of people gathering, we regret to say our history talks, musical performances and “behind-the-scenes” tours will not be going ahead as planned, however, our knowledgeable History Guides will be available to answer any questions. 

We have reviewed our ticket prices to reflect the change in experience and under 16’s now go free. 
Opening Hours: Estate &Grounds-10.00 am-5.00 pm (last admission to the estate 4.00 pm)
Mitchell’s café – 11:30 am- 3.30 pm. 

The Craft & Design Shop –  11:30 am -5 pm.
We strongly encourage pre-booking tickets online at kylemoreabbey.com to guarantee entry to the estate.

Name our Foal Competition


Foal competition

Last week, Niamh’s brilliant blog gave you some of the history of the Connemara Pony and the story behind our new additions to the Kylemore Estate. Now we want your help naming our filly foal.

Born on the morning of April 15th, this cutie joined our other new arrival, Peaceful Paschal, named for his Easter birth. “Peaceful….” as she will be named is already a star on the Kylemore social media accounts and we are sure will be a favourite with visitors once we reopen.

Have your say on what her name should be on the Kylemore Abbey Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kylemoreabbey/) or Facebook pages (https://www.facebook.com/KylemoreAbbeyandGarden/) between now and May 29th to be in with a chance of not only being part of history as the first person to name one of the first-ever Connemara Pony foals to be born on the estate, but also, win a luxurious Kylemore Abbey Hamper filled with delicious Kylemore treats and goodies, plus a Family Pass to the Kylemore Estate to visit the lovely little Lady you named.

Some things to know about her before you get naming:

  • “Peaceful…….” was born April 15th.
  • Her Mommy is…….and her Daddy is an “Atlantic Star”.
  • Her Mommy’s Dad was an international showjumping star who won medals across Europe.

Good Luck!

Nature Blog: Get to Know Our Connemara Ponies


As the sun rose over Pollacapall Lough on Easter Sunday morning a small whicker could be heard on the Kylemore Abbey Estate as Fern, one of our Connemara broodmares welcomed her foal into the World. A beautiful strong colt foal, he has fittingly been named “Peaceful Paschal”, symbolising rebirth and renewal. This is the first-ever Connemara foal born at Kylemore Abbey.

Two days later a second foal arrived. This time a gorgeous filly. While the two foals are enjoying getting to know their new scenic surroundings, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our third foal.

The gestation period for a foal is on average eleven months. Within a few minutes of being born a foal will stand up and greedily look to suckle its mother. For the first six months of its life, the foal will continue to suckle its mother.

Connemara ponies originated in the Hills of Connemara and are renowned for their sturdiness, surefootedness and agility, traits which have been passed from generation to generation. Traditionally they were used to work on the land, draw seaweed from the shore and bring the family to Sunday mass, often while rearing a foal. Nowadays, these ponies are highly sought after all over the World as top performance ponies while their kind temperaments make them the perfect child’s pony.

As Spring leads into Summer and the Victorian Walled Garden is in full bloom, all of us here at Kylemore Abbey are excited to see our foals blossom and grow, while developing their own unique personalities.

The herd of Connemara ponies arrived at Kylemore Abbey last year and since then have attracted a huge number of admirers. Visitors delight in seeing these friendly ponies pop their heads over the fence as they enjoy lunch outside the Garden Tea House.

The ponies at Kylemore Abbey live outdoors in their natural surroundings all year round. These lucky ponies get to enjoy spectacular views of the Connemara landscape while grazing sheltered fields on the Estate.

We look forward to welcoming you to Kylemore Abbey to meet our beautiful Connemara ponies when we re-open. In the meantime, keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for regular updates on our ponies.

by Niamh Philbin.


Congratulations to long-time friend of Kylemore

For many years, Professor John Feerick of Fordham University Law School has been a loyal friend to Kylemore Abbey.  His personal philanthropic generosity and his advocacy for Kylemore’s development on a range of fronts has been a continuing support and blessing.  The Benedictine nuns send warmest congratulations to John on the publication of his memoir, That Further Shore: A Memoir of Irish Roots and American Promise published this month by Fordham University Press. 

To read an extract from John’s memoir detailing his upbringing as the eldest child to Irish immigrants in the South Bronx to practicing law, his landmark role in framing the U.S. Constitution’s Twenty-Fifth Amendment, and his leadership as dean of Fordham Law School, among many other major milestones … go to https://news.law.fordham.edu/blog/2020/04/17/that-further-shore-john-d-feerick-61-on-serving-others/