This one is for all you romantics out there...
Nestled in the beautiful Connemara hills is one of the most romantic, yet heatrbreaking buildings in Ireland.
As the fairy tale castle teasingly emerges from behind the trees, its reflection mirrored in the shimmering waters of Pollacappul Lough, it’s easy to understand why people are so captivated by this place and its history, this is Kylemore Abbey.
It was the mid nineteenth century when, Mitchell and Margaret Henry spent their honeymoon at the humble Kylemore lodge and the two quickly fell under the spell of the breathtaking scenery around them. As a mark of devotion to his wife, Mitchell bought the huge plot that surrounded the lodge and there he constructed the castle that has since become so iconic. It is this grand gesture that has made some people refer to the Abbey as, “The Taj Mahal of Ireland”.
But sadly, the Henry story didn’t have a happy ever after. At the age of 45, during a short trip Egypt, Margaret contracted a virus and two weeks later died. Mitchell and their nine children were devastated and life at Kylemore would never be the same again. Mitchell could barely bring himself to spend any time there but knowing how much Margaret loved their home, he constructed mausoleum in the grounds, where she would finally be laid to rest. He then built a church in her honour but instead of gargoyles, he had angels and flowers are carved in to the stonework. This was to reflect the beauty that Mitchell saw in Margaret, the woman whom he adored so much. When Mitchell died in 1910, as per his wishes, his final resting place was next to his beloved Margaret.
Since 1920, the estate has been home to a community of Benedictine nuns and until 1959 they ran the building as a girls school. Since then, the sisters have worked tirelessly to maintain every inch of the stunning grounds, assuring that the original attention to detail has not been dimmed over time.
When I visited to Kylemore I met a couple in their late seventies, happily wandering, hand in hand, through the one of the pristine, ornate gardens. They asked me if I’d take a photo of them, which of course I did and I wondered if they’d ever been to Kylemore before? They explained that when they got engaged it was their dream to one day visit but even though they only live a couple of hours drive away, back then they had no way of getting there. As the years turned to decades, there never seemed to be a good time for them to make the trip, until now, on the day of their golden wedding anniversary.
As I watched this charming couple walk away, smiling and still holding hands, I thought how fitting it was that two people, clearly still so besotted, should celebrate half a century of marriage at Kylemore, a place that only exists because of love.
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Published by Laura Mc
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