Recently we had a family visit to Kylemore Abbey and Gardens, with the main focus of our visit being the gardens themselves.
On a sunny day in there can be no better place to while away a few hours wandering through this wonderfully restored Victorian walled garden. Nestled in the heart Connemara and completely surrounded by a rugged mountainous skyline the garden stands testament to the ingenious engineering and gardening feats of the Victorians.
The garden itself was developed in the late 1800’s but fell into decline and became completely overgrown, that was until 1995 when the Benedictine Nuns began a program of regeneration leading to the garden opening to the public in 2000.
Entrance to the walled garden
In its original form the walled garden would have employed 40 gardeners and had 21 heated glasshouses, the ground structure of which can still be seen today. Only a small section of one of the glasshouses is standing, but this gives you a glimpse into how spectacular the original structure must have looked, imposing in its grandeur against the impressive mountains framing it.
The garden is divided into two areas, by a natural mountain stream that flows right down the centre. As you walk through the main gate you are immediately greeted by the formal gardens, which are planted exclusively with heirloom Victorian plants. Paths leading to the left, right and down the centre guide you around the garden that is surrounded by the original wall. Made from Irish granite and Scottish red bricks, the wall was designed to protect the garden from the elements, helped by the red bricks’ ability to absorb the sun during the day and release the heat by night, but also to protect the garden from the many sheep who could hungrily munch their way through many a plant.
Vista from the vegetable and herb beds
The head gardener’s cottage has also been restored and is open to the public, where you can gain in part an insight into the living conditions of the day. The house itself was the only structure to remain intact while the rest of the garden went into decline and has housed many people including the travel writer A.E. Johann.
The second half of the garden contains the vegetable and herb beds alongside the fruit trees. Through the second gate on the far side is a plantation of oak trees.
Outside the only standing section of the original glasshouse
The garden is accessible by bus or you can walk the 1.6 km over to it. On a sunny day the walk is an opportunity to soak in the surrounding vista and I would heartily recommend it.
For more information about Kylemore Abbey and entrance fees visit their website Click Here.
Vista from the formal gardens