Search here...
TOP
Blog Food Ireland Travel

A “Sweet” Experience at Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey, also known as Kylemore Castle is one of the most beautiful and iconic castles in Ireland. It sits along a long in Connemara National Park.

Kylemore Abbey is a beautiful, historical sight to see during a trip to Ireland for many reasons. It has a breathtaking landscape, an elegant castle and has a community of Benedictine nuns. In addition to the more well known features of Kylemore Abbey, they also have a craft and design gift shop. However, this is not your average souvenir gift shop, it’s a shop that sells handcrafted pottery, soaps and chocolates made by the Benedictine nuns. We visited Kylemore Abbey for not only the beautiful estate, but to tour their chocolate kitchen. Being able to visit the Benedictine nuns’ chocolate kitchen was a very “sweet” experience for us.

 

Full disclaimer –  We were invited by Kylemore Abbey to tour their property and chocolate kitchen. As always, our opinions are non-biased and our own. Our post may contain affiliate links. When you click on the link you will have the option to purchase a product at no extra cost to you, but we would receive a small commission. We want to thank Kylemore Abbey for their generosity and for everyone following and supporting us on all of our sweet adventures. 

 

Brief History of Kylemore Abbey and the Benedictine Nuns

The foundation for the Kylemore estate started in 1867 by Mitchell and Margaret Henry. There were a lot of rooms! To name a few: 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences. In 1903, the estate was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester. They would undertake a massive renovation of the estate, which would change a lot of the building’s design.

Then in 1914, the estate was sold to a banker until 1920, when the Benedictine nuns purchased the estate. The Benedictine nuns previous abbey in Belgium had been destroyed after the early stages of World War I, thus they needed a new home. They ended up finding one of the most gorgeous homes in the world. After a few years of relocating, the Benedictine nuns opened Kylemore Abbey as a school from 1923 to 2010. To this day the Benedictine nuns still oversee the abbey and go about their day to pray and work.

 

Sights to See at Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is a lovely estate that covers 13,000 acres along a lake in the Connemara National Park. Within their 13,000 acres, there is plenty to see and explore. So, Kylemore Abbey provides a complimentary shuttle bus that goes to and from the abbey and gardens. There are also daily complimentary guided tours on the estate. The History Talks does a 20 minute tour at the abbey during 11:30am, 1pm and 3pm. Guided garden tours are available at 12pm from June to August.

 

Kylemore Castle

The Kylemore Castle features six rooms for guests to visit. The rooms include the Outer Hall, the Inner Hall, the Drawing Room, the Community Room, the Dining Room and the Rear Hall. All of the rooms were redesigned with the original furniture to portray a true insight into the abbey’s past.

 

Neo-Gothic Church

This beautiful neo-Gothic church was built in the style of the 14th century and has been described as a “Cathederal in Miniature.” This church is a lovely place to say a prayer or to enjoy a musical performance. Kylemore Abbey hosts choir groups to perform inside the neo-Gothic church. To enjoy this glorious experience, click here to see a calendar of events.

Old Mausoleum

The Old Mausoleum is a small brick building which holds peace, serenity and eternal love of Mitchell and Margaret Henry. Inside the mausoleum contains the remains of Mitchell and Margaret Henry, where they were laid to rest.

 

Victorian Walled Gardens

The Victorian Walled Gardens are another marvelous piece of Kylemore Abbey’s history. During the late 1800s, the gardens were created around the same time as Kylemore Castle. It was also one of the last walled gardens built during the Victorian era in Ireland. Today, the gardens are comprised of around 6 acres and divided into two sections, the eastern side and the western side. The eastern side of the gardens includes: the formal flower garden, glass houses, the head gardener’s house and the garden bothy. The western side of the garden includes: the vegetable garden, herbaceous border, fruit trees, a rockery and herb garden. With 6 acres and two sections to explore, guests can get lost in the tranquility of the Victorian Walled Gardens.

 

Handmade Chocolate by the Benedictine Nuns

For those who do not know, I am a pastry chef with a strong focus in chocolate. So this experience was extra special for me. With that being said, it is also a charitable and unique experience for all guests.

Christina with the chocolatier

Sr. Genevieve Harrington started this chocolate program after the boarding school closed down. It was a way for the nuns to develop a new education and retreat activities. Sr. Genevieve’s handmade chocolate turned out to be a huge success. Using a slab of marble from the Kylemore Castle, she hand tempered hundreds of chocolate (not easy) to be sold to the surrounding communities. Today, the chocolate kitchen has its own tempering machine and two marble tables that were found in the lake from the castle – fascinating! Kylemore Abbey now produces at a high volume creating thousands of chocolate bars and truffles to be sold at the Craft & Design Gift Shop and online.

The chocolate kitchen is comprised of two rooms – one for producing chocolate and one for packaging the chocolate. The Benedictine nuns use only the finest chocolate from around the world, Valrhona. By using the best quality chocolate and local ingredients, the Benedictine nuns create masterful chocolate creations.

 

Since the chocolate kitchen produces ten times the amount of product from when they first started, they have hired additional help from outside the abbey. One local chocolatier helps Sr. Genevieve produce truffles, a variety of chocolate bars, and milk chocolate barks. Here is what we LOVED:

  • Milk Chocolate Honeycomb Bark – This chocolate bark is divine. If you buy anything, it should be this one. Crisp honeycomb pieces are in every bite. Not only a crowd favorite, but also a finalist for the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards in 2016.
  • Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Bark – if you love coconut, then you will love this chocolate bark. There are small bits of coconut macaroon in every bite of this bark.
  • Luxury Box of Handmade Truffles – This perfect gift includes: Walnut Cranberry, Milk Chocolate Caramel, Hazelnut, Salted Caramel, and Almond Marzipan.
  • Flock of Sheep – sheep are everywhere in Ireland, so it is no surprise that this is the cutest box of chocolate in the country. The sheep are solid white, milk or dark chocolate. We love the play of the black sheep box – pure genius!

Though I highly recommend everyone visit Kylemore Abbey in Ireland, you can purchase these beloved handmade chocolates online. They can ship almost anywhere!

 

Dining at Kylemore Abbey

As previously mentioned, Kylemore Abbey is a huge estate and sightseeing can be exhausting. So luckily, Kylemore Abbey recognizes that and provides guests with delicious dining options. There are three dining options to choose from: Mitchell’s Café at Kylemore Abbey, The Tea House by the Walled Garden and Henry’s Express Coffee Shop.

 

Mitchell’s Café at Kylemore Abbey

Mitchell’s Café at Kylemore Abbey offers guests a modern self service café. The cafe has something for everyone including: homemade soups, a healthy salad counter (featuring herbs and salad leaves from the Victorian Walled Garden), a wide selection of hot and cold sandwiches, Irish stew, savory quiche, fillet of salmon and more.

Make sure you try one of their award winning  scones – they are delicious! And if you want something a little sweeter, they have a cake counter filled with freshly baked fruit crumbles, cream pastries, brownies, cheesecakes and more. Vegetarian and celiac options are also available.

 

 

The Tea House by the Walled Garden

The Tea House is a perfect dining option for families. Guests can enjoy a light lunch and refreshing herbal teas made from the herbs collected from the Walled Garden. It is located in a beautiful setting by the Victorian Walled Garden. This provides guests with amazing views of not only the garden, but Connemara National Park too. There are even cute regular sized and miniature picnic benches for adults and children to enjoy.

 

Henry’s Express Coffee Shop

If guests do not have time to sit and and relax for their lunch, then Henry’s Express Coffee Shop is the perfect choice. Guests can pick up and take-away beverages and scrumptious food. Options include tea, coffee, sandwiches, healthy salads, cakes, homemade Kylemore Abbey fudge, filled crépes and ice-cream.

 

Craft & Design Gift Shop

Before you leave the Kylemore Abbey estate, make sure you stop at the Craft & Design Gift Shop. It is more than a souvenir shop, but a place the Benedictine nuns sell their handmade products. We could not think of a better souvenir to take home than handmade chocolates, soaps, candles or pottery made by the Benedictine nuns. You can also purchase these gifts online!

 

 

We both thoroughly enjoyed our time at Kylemore Abbey and the tour of their chocolate kitchen was amazing. I hope you are able to experience this wonderful estate during your visit to Ireland.

 

Kylemore Abbey
Pollacappul, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland
Open Daily
November to March: 10am to 4:30pm
April to July: 9am to 6pm
July to August: 9am to 7pm
September to October: 9:30am to 5:30pm
Prices: Adults are €13, Seniors €10, Students €9 and children under 10 yrs are FREE
https://www.kylemoreabbey.com

 

Looking for hotel options or more info on Ireland? Try these!

Cliff Townhouse – The Perfect Hotel in Dublin, Ireland

Lough Eske Castle Hotel & Spa – Spa Hotel in Donegal, Ireland

A Luxurious Afternoon Tea Experience at Ashford Castle

20 Helpful Driving Tips to have the Best Ireland Road Trip

 

«

»

32 COMMENTS

  • Kallsy

    So impressed by Kylemore Abbey! I wish we had done a chocolate tour whenever we went. This looks like such a neat experience and not to mention TASTY. Now I think I may need to ship some of this chocolate to my home – especially the Milk Chocolate Honeycomb Bark. 🙂

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      It was hard to resist not eating and buying all of the chocolate. The tour was fantastic!

  • Priya Florence Shah

    What an amazing place! Fantastic view and beautiful abbey. I envy those nuns for being able to live here, LOL. Definitely going here when I visit Ireland. Thanks for letting us know about this place.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      The views of the Abbey from all around are just fantastic. Very picturesque. You should definitely add this to your list to see.

  • Kristie

    Impressive! I love the idea of buying tons of chocolate from nuns. The “Flock of Sheep” is marketing genius. Seriously, I really want to see this place!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      We really thought that the flock of sheep was genius. It was a surprise to see that they had such a successful chocolate operation. The Abbey is beautiful you should definitely see it.

  • Nives

    I’m totally impressed with that castle and the chocolate! I really want to be there right now 🙂

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      The abbey is so beautiful. I believe they had just finished a restoration on the front part of the abbey making it even more beautiful.

  • Per

    Such a good tip for a place I never would have heard if it wasn’t for you.
    If I visit that area in the future, i’ll definitely consider a visit.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      The Abbey is perfect even if it is just for a quick picture. The area around it is beautiful.

  • Kate and Kris

    How cool that they make chocolate and you can help them with it. Yum! It makes the visit even more interesting.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      The fact that they make the chocolate there makes it even better and taste better. The Abbey is definitely a worth while place to visit.

  • Jim Jones

    This looks like a totally amazing trip! The scenery is beautiful and the food looks AWESOME! BRB…gotta go get some chocolate sheep, LOL!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      The area around the Abbey is beautiful not to mention the Abbey is stunning. We opted for a scone at the abbey and we not disappointed. The chocolate tastes even better because it is made there.

  • prabhu

    right now i am in kylemore and already spent 4 days here to visit all local places but still 3 days left. Actually the place is very gorgeous and wonderful with nature and flowers. Love the place but is there anything else i could do between 3 days?

  • Patti

    I am a chocoholic so this place would be perfect for me. I’ll keep it in mind when I visit Ireland.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      This place is definitely worth a visit if not just for the chocolate. The Abbey is definitely beautiful and you should at least snap a picture while there.

  • Followingtherivera

    I love chocolate anyway, but these are very special seeing they’re made by benedictine nuns! It’s great that you got to try your expert hand at trying all these wonderful chocolates. Honestly, they all look and sound good to me 🙂

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      We thought it was awesome that they were able to make the chocolate there and how much they make too. They all taste amazing!

  • Mike

    I want that Luxury box of truffles ! I am sure I will go crazy there. Kylemore Abbey seems ABSOLUTELY beautiful ! Will go there and take my kayak along too whenever I visit Ireland.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      The truffles are amazing! There is a lot to see and do around the area. The whole area is beautiful.

  • Kellyn

    I’m just here for the food!!!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      This is definitely a great stop for you!

  • Melanie

    I would love to visiting Kylemore Abbey! Your posts from Ireland have me wanting to board a plane like yesterday!! You had me at chocolate kitchen, but I have also always been so intrigued by nuns. Would love to explore this spot, see the kitchen, and meet the nuns. Looks like a wonderful time!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Seeing everyone else’s posts about Ireland made us want to do the same thing haha. The Abbey is a beautiful place that is definitely worth a stop.

  • Lydia

    I’ve been to Ireland last year but unfortunately, I haven’t visited the Kylemore Abbey, Christina and Adam. As a person with a sweet tooth, your post made my mouth water. Seems like an awesome place to explore!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Our mouths were watering the entire time we were there. The Abbey is a beautiful place and if you ever make it back to Ireland you should go visit it.

  • Meghan Fryar

    Excellent writing and its a great adventure in Kylemore Abbey. If any traveler visits Ireland, he must love to explore this beautiful place. I enjoyed to saw your video in kitchen, I never visit Ireland but now I totally inspired to visit this place and I plan to fix my next trip in there. All the information helps me to make this trip best. I have a weakness in chocolate, haha. When I visit there I must take many white shape chocolate and candles for my family, And I do not miss visiting the Craft & Design Gift Shop. I think it will be a sweet experience in Kylemore Abbey.

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      Thank you for your nice comment. The Abbey is a beautiful place that we would encourage everyone to visit in their lifetime. There is a lot to do in and around the Abbey to occupy a good portion of your day.

  • Josy A

    I spent all my summers in Connemara as a child, so i had quite a few friends that went to school at Kylemore Abbey. It is sooo funny that the school is now making chocolates! I’d love to go back! 🙂

    My mum’s painting used to hang in the gift shop and cafe at the Abbey. My dad always said those nuns were better bargainers than any of the other gift shops!

    • oursweetadventures
      AUTHOR

      We are very jealous that you were able to spend so much time in this beautiful area. The Abbey and everything around it is so beautiful.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pingback: 12 Castles in Ireland You Cannot Miss! - Our Sweet Adventures on May 6, 2018

shares
%d bloggers like this: