Helena cropped

The Duke & Duchess of Manchester

In 1903, Mitchell Henrysold Kylemore Castle to the Duke of Manchester (William Angus Drogo Montague) and his Duchess of Manchester, Helena Zimmerman. They lived a lavish lifestyle financed by the Duchess’ wealthy father, the American businessman, Eugene Zimmerman. 

On arrival at Kylemore in Connemara the couple set about a major renovation, removing much of the Henry's Italian inspired interiors and making the castle more suitable for the lavish entertainments that they hoped to stage in their new home, including an anticipated visit from their friend King Edward VII.

The renovation included the removal of the beautiful German stained-glass window in the staircase hall and ripping out large quantities of Italian and Connemara marble. Local people were unhappy with the developments and felt the changes represented a desecration of the memory of the much-loved Margaret Henry and her beloved Kylemore Castle.


dressed for Coronation
Born in March 1877, William Montagu - the Duke was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and succeeded his father when he was still a minor. The Duke inherited a grand estate which included lavish residences such as Tanderagee Castle in Co. Armagh and Kimbolton Castle in Huntington, England. However, his inheritance, which was administered by trustees was heavily indebted and together with his lavish lifestyle meant that by the age of 23 the Duke was bankrupt. When in 1900 the Duke married the Cincinatti born heiress, Helena Zimmerman, it seemed that his money problems could be forgotten. As Helena's parents frowned on the relationship the couple eloped to Paris where they were married - a suitably glamorous start to the marriage of this sparkling and often talked about pair. It is thought that Helena's father hoped the life of a country squire at Kylemore would help the Duke to leave behind his days of gambling and partying but this was not to be. The Duke and Duchess left Kylemore in 1914 following the death of Helena's father. There were many stories in circulation which claimed that the Duke lost Kylemore in a late-night gambling session in the Castle however it seems more likely that following the death of Eugene Zimmerman there were insufficient funds available to the Duke to maintain the Kylemore estate.


Helena cropped
Helena Zimmerman - the Duchess, was referred to in the English and American press as a 'dollar princess', the title was given to wealthy American heiresses who married into the British Royal line. Helena was a beautiful and modern young woman who together with the dashing Duke made a glamorous much talked about young couple. Although her father and mother at first frowned upon her marriage to the Duke because of his reputation as a rakish playboy and gambler, they did eventually come to support the couple financially. Helena spent a somewhat lonely life at Kylemore with her three young children as the Duke continued to travel widely in Europe and America, often as the paid guest of wealthy Americans such as Randolph Hearst. The Duke and Duchess divorced in 1931 and Helena went on to marry the 10th Earl of Kintore, Scotland. The Duchess is remembered as speeding along the narrow fuchsia lined laneways of Connemara in her Daimler motor car, a highly unusual sight for Connemara of the early 1900s!