Why is it when I am home, I can sleep in until 10am and can barely get out the bed to join the land of the living. When on vacation my eyes pop open like a soda bottle ready to explode? I tried to sleep in but the next adventure was waiting and so was 8 am rush hour traffic in Galway.
Collecting all of my belongings, I make the 15 min walk to my car. If you recall from the last blog, it took me an hour to find the place the day before because I took a right instead of a left. Following the river, passing only joggers, trash men and students I find my car still parked behind the Cathedral. GPS a go, destination set, I was ready for Connemara.
The drive took me through Galway, down primary then secondary roads, and small towns. When instructed to take a left I did and the world changed. Galway is lush in fields, forest, rivers and ocean; this one turn took me to a landscape I have never seen before
The winding road with no shoulder led me into a mountain range which looked like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. Bald mountains reached towards the sky with low shrubs clinging to the rock faces; fog hovered over the mountains creating a grey dismal sky. Alone with no other car insight and feeling like the only person on the planet, I drove the roads with hair pin turns, hugging the edge trying not to look down because if I did, I would be looking into nothingness.
Two hours later, it’s about 8 am; hungry and a bit tired I see a sign for Kylemore Abbey. Kylemore Abbey sits back off of the road at the base of a mountain over looking a lake and mountain range. A bit of history about Kylemore Abbey, which today is a true Abbey for the Benedictine Nuns who fled from Belgium during World War II.
Before it became an Abbey, Kylemore was the private residence to Mitchell Henry and his wife Margaret and their nine children. This was their second home; construction started in 1867 and took 4 years to build. Henry planted many of the trees that are on the sprawling grounds which have created a forest, he built a beautiful walled Victorian garden which is still in use today by the nuns for fruits, vegetables and flowers.
At the age of 50 Margaret died from a sickness she contracted while in Egypt. Distraught over his beloved wife, Henry built a memorial church a mile from the house along with a burial sight where she lays to rest. Mitchell Henry never remarried and died at 84, he is buried with his wife.
Kylemore has been many things throughout the years, a private residence, an all girls school and now a working Abbey. The grounds are immaculate; you can have lunch, coffee or tea there in the restaurant and explore miles and miles of walking paths. There are tucked away waterfalls and statues hidden in the rocks. If you decide to go, go early and stay for a while; the drive is well worth it, just try and stay between the lines.
Tip: The price of admission isn’t cheap for Kylemore. I believe it was 13 pounds for just myself. At this time the link to the website is not working. Google Kylemore Abbey for more information.