BW school

The School Years

The Benedictine nuns have always had a tradition of education. When they were known as the “Irish Dames of Ypres”, Irish nobility sent their daughters to be educated by the Benedictine nuns in their ancient Belgian Abbey. When the nuns came to Kylemore, they went about transforming the castle into an Abbey and created an International Girls Boarding School. The principal reception rooms and bedrooms in the Abbey were converted into classrooms with other rooms being converted into dormitories. The school was formally opened in 1923 with just 30 pupils initially.

The students received an education drawn up in accordance with the principles of Benedictine education and in line with the public secondary school curriculum. From the beginning, the school was seen as a ‘high-class school’ offering ‘all the advantages of a Continental education without the necessity for lengthened travel’. The school was known as one of Ireland's most prestigious girls' schools and became famous world-wide. 


When the nuns came to Kylemore, they went about transforming the castle into an Abbey and created an International Girls Boarding School.
Many Kylemore Abbey foreign students were attracted to the beautiful environment of Connemara and the opportunity to learn English. The majority of students came from Galway and neighbouring counties. International students came mostly from Europe with some coming from as far away as India, Japan, Mexico and America. In the 1930s, the school started to cater for day students from the locality also. Day pupils studied alongside boarding students and the girls developed friendships lasting long after they left school and spanning the globe.

Reimaging Education in Kylemore

Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys.
Due to societal changes, numbers enrolling at Kylemore Abbey Boarding School started to decrease. With only one nun remaining teaching and increasing running and maintenance costs, it was decided to close the school. The last students of Kylemore Abbey sat their exams in June 2010. Kylemore's ethos of education however continues. Today the famous Notre Dame University of Indiana USA are based in Kylemore which has become one of their Global Gateways for learning and social exchange. Summer schools such as the Connemara Maths Academy also make use of the former school rooms and throughout the year Sr Karol O'Connell continues to welcome music students from the locality to learn music and singing in the Abbey's former Billiard Room.

Kylemore has recently become an ecological site of research for University of Galway and has begun working with Heritage Ireland to create and promote the importance of history and heritage from a young age. See our resource section for some of our fun educational resources.