Kylemore Abbey


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May 31st 2019
Published: June 26th 2019
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On the last day of May the gusting wind blew so hard it pushed the heavy rain to pour sideways and down drenching everything and everybody. But we were on our way to Connemara, to visit Kylemore Abbey, a Benedictine community welcoming visitors for almost one hundred years, since 1920. We could have wished for a more pleasant day, clear, or even with scattered showers, but our luck had run out. Umbrellas were almost no use, many turning inside out with the wind, but most of us had raincoats or at least coats that were somewhat water-resistant. Expecting less than beautiful weather in Ireland I had come prepared, wearing ankle boots and a good warm coat. My umbrella lasted a bit, so that was somewhat helpful too. What we could see of the Abbey through the downpours was minimal; the rain - and the umbrellas - blinded our vision. It was difficult to take photos, or even to see where we were attempting to go. But this was our only day here, so we had to make the best of it, foul weather included.

Starting at the Abbey itself, only a few rooms were open for viewing. This was a disappointment as I had thought we'd be able to explore more of the numerous rooms here. So after a short time it was back out into the rain, to decide whether to walk first to the Gothic church, the mausoleum, or even to attempt seeing the reputedly exquisite Victorian walled gardens further afield. I joined in walking with a group of four friends travelling together; we were all from New England so had that in common. Deciding that since we were already so wet we might as well walk to the Gothic church next, hoping that maybe the rain would lessen before we'd make our way to the gardens. Passing by beautiful but dripping flowering bushes and trees, several times I nearly bumped into other people since I could not see from under my umbrella where I was going; I just tried to follow my friend's sneakered wet feet as she walked ahead along the path. We missed much of the beauty of Kylemore Abbey because of the weather that day.

But after awhile the rain did lessen a bit, so we hopped on the shuttle bus taking visitors to the lovely six acre walled garden. This Victorian walled garden was cultivated in an Irish bog, filled with flowers and plants introduced to Ireland before 1901. As we walked through the first arched brick wall an unexpected and lovely scene opened up before us: even in the rain it was incredibly beautiful. The rain was softer now, so we could meander slowly through the paths separating exotic plants, native trees, and gorgeous flowers. Many in our group did not bother to come to the gardens because of the rain, but I was so glad I did! It was stunning, and looked as if it extended far beyond six acres. Glasshouses protected the fruits that needed more warmth to grow: bananas, figs, grapes, melons. But the garden itself is situated on a "sun trap," the brightest and warmest area on the abbey estate, so the original planners and planters knew well what they were doing. This garden is exquisite.

I stayed in the walled garden so long I didn't leave time enough to even visit the gift shop, where Benedictine nuns sold artisan foods and other things they made right at the abbey. Others bought jams, cookies, honey, chocolate, even pottery and skincare products, but I was happy with my choice of remaining outdoors, a little more than slightly damp but enriched with the sights and smells of being in one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. The rainy weather could not diminish that.

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27th June 2019

I would love to see photos of the garden.

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