Ireland is a country with countless tales of myth and folklore. Kylemore is steeped in romantic and colourful Irish legends and mythology. Many of the mountains and lakes in this area have ancient stories associated with them which have been passed from generation to generation.
A selection of local legends of Kylemore…
The Battle of the Giants and the ‘Ironing Stone’
Cú Chulainn and Fionn McCool are two of Ireland’s best known mythological heroes and legend has it they often fought each other on the Connemara mountains. Fionn McCool resided on the distinctive mountain know as ‘The Diamond’ which faces the Kylemore Abbey from the South. It is known as the diamond as much of its quartz stone is exposed. When the sun shines on the mountain, it sparkles – like a diamond.
Cú Chulainn lived on the opposite side of the valley on the mountain known as ‘Dúchruach’ meaning ‘Black Stack’which sits directly behind Kylemore Abbey. It takes its name from its unusual black stone and stands out from all the other mountains in the area. The giants were hot tempered and regularly didn’t see eye-to-eye. One day, during one of their heated arguments, Cú Chulainn picked up a massive stone and threw it towards Fionn McCool. The stone narrowly missed Fionn McCool and landed at an unusual angle on the Kylemore estate where it lies today. The shape of the stone resembles a traditional iron used for ironing clothes and is known locally as ‘The Ironing Stone’ or the ‘Smoothing Iron’. Local children use it as a wishing stone. If you stand with your back against the stone, make a wish and throw a small pebble back over the stone three times, that wish will be granted. It is bad luck to wish for money but you can wish for love!
Leim na h’Elite – The Deer’s Leap
An unusual looking rocky outcrop, located high above the neo-Gothic church also earned its name ‘Leim na h’Eilte’ – The Deers Leap from the time the mythical giants ruled the area. Giant, Fionn McColl and his hound named Bran were chasing an enchanted deer across the wilds of Connemara. As they traversed the treacherous hillside at lightning speed, Fionn could see Bran was in danger as he was close to the rocky cliff. Fionn called Bran to come back but Bran, caught up in the chase could not hear him. The deer leaped from the cliff and Bran followed. They both disappeared into the lake below and were never seen again.
Pol a Capall – The Place of the Horse
The legend of the White Horse takes place at the beautiful lake which reflects the image of the abbey, often like a mirror. The lake takes its name from another legend. A story popular among children, the tale tells of a beautiful white horse which rises from the lake in front of the Abbey every 7 years.
In 2011 some staff at Kylemore Abbey were almost certain they had seen the legendary white horse. On a windy day, the wind whipped up water from the lake in wispy white clouds which raced across the surface of the lake back and forth. One could easily imagine this was a beautiful white horse racing to and fro.
The Giant’s Bed
The giant legend is one of the most known legends in Irish mythology. A large flat rock lies near the Abbey. Local legend holds that it marks the grave of a ferocious giant who terrorised the people of Kylemore who had to feed him from their own meagre provisions. When the giant’s appetite had all but decimated the livestock, vegetable gardens and fish stocks of the valley he then announced the locals would have to feed him their children! Luckily before this terrible event happened a brave young man returned from fighting in France and killed the giant. To get close enough to deal the fatal blow he dressed in his mothers shawl and pretended to be an old woman bringing the giant his breakfast before producing his sword and ending the reign of terror. The large rock was placed over the giant where he lay to make sure that he would never rise again.