Happy International Women's Day! Kylemore Abbey is a place that has been inspired by, developed by and led by women. From the inspiration behind the beautiful Castle, Margaret Henry, bought with the Duchess of Manchester's fortune, Helena Zimmerman and owned and led by The Benedictine nuns today. Here is an insight into the wonderful work of these inspirational women.
Address to Mrs. Margaret Henry by those who waited as a deputation on the 17 October1872, and presented the address to Mrs. Henry at Kylemore Castle. The addresswas signed by ninety of the inhabitants.
…..‘Madam– We, the inhabitants of Letterfrack and Kylemore do gladly avail ourselves ofthe present opportunity of expressing our unbounded joy and gratitude at yoursafe arrival in Kylemore after a Continental tour. Since first we had the goodfortune of your coming amongst us, your noble-hearted husband and yourself havetaken so deep an interest in our general welfare, you have done so much toimprove and beautify this long neglected, poverty-stricken district; you haveshown such uniform kindness and liberality to all particularly to the sick poor– no language at our command can adequately express our feelings of admirationof such invaluable, and, we hope, never-to-be-forgotten service’…..
Freeman’s Journal, Tuesday, 22 October 1872.
Americanheiress, Helena Zimmerman, Duchess of Manchester
Threeyears after her marriage, Helena Zimmerman, Duchess of Manchester arrived atKylemore Castle in 1903 and set about modernising and updating the castle fromVictorian to Edwardian style. Without her family’s wealth, her wayward anddifficult husband the duke, would not have been in any position to purchaseKylemore Castle and estate. According to a contemporary American journalist,the duchess was “simple, lovable, her life fully absorbed in her children andher home.” (Woman’s Home Companion, New York, 1912).
LadyAbbess Maura Ostyn First Abbess of Kylemore Abbey
Born inBelgium in 1868, Abbess Ostyn was the last prioress in Ypres, before thecommunity fled to Ireland following the outbreak of World War I. Shesubsequently became the next abbess in 1916 when Lady Abbess Scholastica died,and in 1920 when the Benedictine community arrived at Kylemore, she was thefirst Abbess of the Kylemore Benedictine Community when the former castlebecame an abbey. She died in 1940 and is buried in the community cemetery.