We are CLOSED

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

The Story of the Victorian Walled Garden Restoration

The Beginning

The Walled Garden was established and developed around the same time as the castle between 1867 and 1871. The Garden was at the height of its splendour between 1880 and 1890. See black and white photos to the left of the door).

Mitchell Henry poured an enormous amount of investment into the Garden. The best Head Gardener that money could buy supervised a team of up to 40 gardeners and groundskeepers.

 

The Duke of Manchester

When Mitchell Henry sold the estate in 1902, it was taken over by the ninth Duke of Manchester. The Duke did not have the resources of the Henrys to invest in the Garden, and staff numbers were drastically cut. The slow process of decay had started. Following the Duke’s departure, the Gardens stood empty for seven years in which time nature wreaked havoc on the glasshouses and the once immaculate grounds.

 

The arrival of the Benedictine Nuns

Once the nuns arrived in 1920, the Gardens were brought back into use but this time as a working garden where fruit and vegetables were grown to supply both the needs of the nuns and the girl’s school. Local gardeners, notably John Joyce and Michael (Mikey) Thornton, under the supervision of Sr. Benedict, carried out this work. Sr. Benedict also ran the nearby farm with its beef, dairy cattle, and poultry farm. The Garden and Farm were extremely productive, and Kylemore was an almost fully self-sufficient estate for many years. In this extract from an interview with John Joyce in 1993, we can see the extent of the garden at that time.

“We had all types of vegetables, carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes; the early potatoes were number one, we used to sow them in March. Then cabbage was next, all different types of cabbage.” John Joyce former Gardener

 

The Secret Garden

However, as time went on less and less land was given over to gardening.  Nature began to encroach further and further on the Garden. By the 1990s most of the Garden was hidden under a deep layer of shrubs and brambles with large trees growing a where once formal flowerbeds were found. The glasshouses had disappeared, and most of the Garden buildings had fallen in. It seemed that the once majestic oasis was being forgotten. It was at this time that Sr.Magdalena Fitzgibbon took on the project of bringing the Garden back to its former glory. Partial fundraising became available through the Great Gardens of Ireland Fund, and Sr Magdalena set about raising the necessary support for her project to restore the ‘secret garden. Working with great faith and foresight, she managed to catch the collective imagination of the right people.

“the restoration of the garden was a dream: a place where one could dream, reflect and find peace. Pax-peace- is our Benedictine motto and it all springs from the stillness of silence.” Sr. Magdalena FitzGibbon OSB

 

 

The Restoration Begins

 In 1995 an advisory team of historical restoration consultants, garden archaeologists and architects was brought together to ensure the success of the ambitious project. A new Head Gardener, Ann Golden, was appointed and a team of local workers and student gardeners recruited so that the project could begin in earnest. Much of the early work was akin to an archaeological dig as the long-hidden structure of the Garden was painstakingly revealed. As very little historical documentation Bothy House and other garden buildings.  At an early stage, it was decided that Kylemore would be a Heritage Garden where only plant varieties from pre1901 could be used. This was a crucial decision in giving authenticity to the project, although it also meant research and hard work! In 1995 following five hard years of investigating, digging clearing and reimagining the Garden was once more ready to be viewed by the public.

 

The Grand Opening

On 13th October 2000, the Garden was opened with great fanfare to a delighted public. Sr. Benedict was on hand to place the key in the grand entrance gate, and Kylemore’s last original gardeners John Joyce and Mike Thornton were invited to plant a ceremonial tree. The formalities took place in the newly built Garden Tea House which had been designed to beautifully complement the restored Garden. In 2001 the Garden restoration project won the prestigious Europa Nostra, a fitting accolade for a job well done.

 

The Victorian Walled Garden Today

In the years since the Garden was reopened to the public, it has beautifully matured, and we are constantly searching for more clues about its past. The Garden continues to be a work in progress and under the guiding hand of Head Gardener, Anja Gohlke and her team it has once more emerged as a Garden that even Mitchell Henry would be very proud to call his own.

 

 

Pony Blog: Weaning our foals

Weaning our Foals

 

As the days start getting shorter and the leaves fall from the majestic trees on the Kylemore Estate our thoughts turn to preparing our foals for the weaning process. This Spring three foals were born here, two colts and one filly, Peaceful Pascal, Peaceful Reailtín and Peaceful Alfie, all purebred Connemara Ponies. Generally, when foals are about six months old weaning takes place. Weaning is the process of separating the foals from their Mothers. Up until now the foals have been suckling their Mothers but they have now reached the stage where they are less dependent on the mares milk, the quality of which has lessened since Spring and Summer.

The young foals learn by copying their Mother’s behaviour so we have started feeding meal to our mares and foals. The foals quickly learn that this meal is a lovely treat and look forward to feeding time. Feeding the foals also allows them to get used to human contact. Even though our foals at Kylemore are well used to human contact due to the large number of admirers they get every day and they will quite happily pose with visitors for a “selfie”.

Over the coming weeks as the foals become more independent of their Mothers we will start the gradual weaning process. This involves taking the foals away from the mares for a short period of time initially and then gradually increasing the length of time each day. Using this weaning process ensures everything is done in a stress-free manner for both the mare and foal.

When the foals are completely separated from the mares, they will be stabled at night time for the Winter. During the day they will be let out to play together in the sheltered paddocks, where hopefully they will get to enjoy some winter sunshine. Ponies are herd animals and enjoy company. They will be fed a balanced diet of coarse mix and haylage which was produced here in the meadows on the farm in Kylemore. The educating of these foals will continue over the Winter and they will learn to stand quietly to be groomed, have their feet lifted, to walk and trot in-hand and to load in a horsebox. This education will ensure these foals grow up to be kind and well-mannered ponies and in time will make the breaking process a lot easier.

What about the mares? After the weaning process when the mares’ milk has dried up, they will live outdoors for the winter in their natural environment. All our mares are safely scanned in foal for next year so the care of these mares over the Winter will be paramount to give them the best chance possible of delivering a healthy foal in Springtime.

Over the Winter months at Kylemore, we will be busy developing our outdoor pony area with new informative signage so visitors can learn about our Native pony during their visit to Kylemore. If you are visiting Kylemore Abbey and Gardens when we reopen, make sure to call by the Pony Paddock in front of the Tea House at 12 noon on Mondays or Fridays to see our mares and foals being fed. Also, keep an eye on our social media where we regularly post photos of our Connemara ponies.

Kylemore Abbey Closure

In line with updated public health guidelines, Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Gardens will remain closed until we return to level two of the Government’s Living with Covid Plan.
Thank you to everyone who has visited and supported Kylemore over the last few months, while we are sorry to be closing again especially as we were about to embark on a new autumn/winter programme, we understand that the health of our Staff, Community and Visitors comes first.
While we remain closed, the team will be working hard behind the scenes to ensure a wonderful, safe and fun day out for you and your families in Kylemore once it is safe to welcome you back.
Until then, stay safe and stay well.

Kylemore Abbey Autumn/Winter Programme

From October 2nd, Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Gardens will be open from Friday to Monday. But what we might be lacking in days we are more than making up for in experiences. We are proud to launch our most ambitious programme of walks, talks, and events ever! There is something for everyone in Kylemore this Autumn, whether you’re on a journey of self-discovery or a History Hunter,  whether you are the outdoors animal lover type or prefer a warm cuppa while watching some of our great local artists work. There is something for everyone, and with so many events and loyalty cards for both you and your pooch, Kylemore needn’t be a one time visit this Autumn.

See our full list of activities here:

Autumn Schedule

Readings and Performances from Culture Night in Kylemore Abbey

After a packed day and evening of Culture Night festivities, we are delighted to share the readings and performances that made Kylemore’s first Culture Night programme such a success.

The music, readings and prayer were beautiful and we are delighted to share the performances with you from beginning to end as the day occured.

Enjoy!

At 12 pm Kylemore Abbey Hisotry Guide, Gerrit Nuckton began event with a reading of W.B. Yeats’ beautiful Lake Isle of Inisfree on the shore of Pollucapal Lake.

This was followed at 1 pm by Kylemore Abbey History Guide, Tim Heanue, reading the tragic Requiescat by Oscar Wilde.

At 2 pm Joanne Smyth, History Guide and Historic Interiors Consultant gave a brief talk on Lady Gregory and her deep and enduring connection to Kylemore Abbey…

At 3 pm Sr. Genevieve Harrington OSB shared her beautiful arrangement and performance of Fidelity, a poem by new Zealand poet Judith Powell.

At 4pm, Kylemore Abbey History Guide, Emma O’Sullivan, read Lady Augusta Gregory’s much-lauded translation of the traditional Irish poem Donal Óg.

At 5pm, Abbey & Gothic Church Manager, Eithne O’Halloran shared a favourite piece of hers, Golden Stockings by Oliver St. John Gogarty, who once lived near Kylemore and wrote a short story about the Princesses who attended school in Kylemore.

At 6pm, as the Angelus bells rang out around the Kylemore Estate we enjoyed a peaceful moment as The Benedictine Community shared an excert pf their beautiful Vespers in celebration of the Feast of the Assumption.

At 7pm we went live from the neo-Gothic Church with a fabulous line of talent. Harpist, Lynn Saoirse, played beautiful tunes and shared her enthusiasm for the history of the harp and the influence of Turlough O’Carolan on her and indeed all harp music. Eileen Keane, singer-songwriter, sang a number of traditional and personal songs which spoke to the richness of culture of the building, the times we are in, and the people of Ireland. And Emma O’Sullivan who wonderfully comered the evening rounded off event with a lively acapella Sean Nós step.

We hope you enjoyed Kylemore Abbey’s Culture Night Programme as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.

Thank you to everyone who performed on the day, to The Benedictne Community for so graciously opening up the neo-Gothic Church to the wonderful performers, and to Culture Night and The Arts Council for their support in making the event possible.

Culture Night in Kylemore Abbey

Culture Night in Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is delighted to be hosting events for this year’s Culture Night on Friday the 18th of September. For the first time in its 15 year history, Kylemore will celebrate Culture Night with a programme of varied but distinctly Kylemore Cultural offerings to share with an online audience.

Starting at 12 noon, each hour will bring a reading from one of our History Guides. They have chosen some of their favourite pieces from Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats, Oliver St. John Gogarty and Oscar Wilde to share. Each of these famous writers had a special connection to Kylemore and it is a privilege for our staff to honour them on this night. Lady Gregory, in particular, was known to have holidayed in Kylemore Castle with the Henry Family. Gregory’s legacy in Kylemore will be further honoured in early October as Kylemore hosts DruidGregory on the estate for a wonderful performance of her classic plays by the internationally renowned Druid Theatre Company.

At 6 pm, visitors to the Kylemore Abbey Facebook page will be treated to a clip of the recent Benedictine Community’s Vespers held in the neo-Gothic Church on the Eve of the Feast of the Assumption. The beautiful chanting of the Sisters as the Angelus bells ring out nationwide will ease you into the evening’s events.

At 7 pm we will bring the event section of Kylemore’s Culture Night to a close with a mixture of lively trad, enchanting harp, songs and dance live from the neo-Gothic Church. Compered by Kylemore history Guide and renowned Sean Nos dancer Emma O’Sullivan, local performers, harpist Lynn Saoirse, Singer-songwriter Eileen Keane, and traditional brother and sister duo James and Isabelle Ruddy, all of whom visitors to the Abbey will recognise as regular performers in Kylemore, will come together for an evening of song and music in the magical neo-Gothic church for a Facebook live event. Recently the host location for the Other Voices Courage series on RTE2, the neo-Gothic Church with its romantic history, and its renowned acoustics provides the perfect venue for this intimate performance, allowing you to be transported from your every day cares with the best music Connemara has to offer.

And as the evening darkness rolls in the Abbey will be lit in white to celebrate Kylemore’s recent success as a finalist in the RIAI public choice awards for the cultural and architectural work completed by Axo Architects in delivering Kylemore’s new visitor experience “From Generation to Generation”. It will also symbolically shine a light on culture in Kylemore, Ireland and beyond.

Videos and events will be taking place on the Kylemore Abbey Facebook page and will be shared on other social media platforms throughout the day.