Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Connemara and Kylemore Abbey

On Friday Star and her roommate Monique joined Jamie, Jessie, and I on a day trip to Connemara.  Taking a bus to a couple miles from Kylemore Abbey cost 14euro, but taking a bus tour to lots of places and right to the Abbey only cost 15euros, so we took the bus tour and it was well worth it. Along with great commentary and some crazy Irish music we got to stop off at some beautiful spots to enjoy the Connemara scenery.
The Connemara region is where a lot of Irish movies were filmed like The Quiet Man. (Which is now top of my list of movies I need to watch while I'm here, along with The Field and The Wind that Shakes the Barley because those have been recommended to me by Irish friends.)
Knocking on the Quiet Man's door 
In addition to sites from the film, such as the cottage and the bridge and other things I will appreciate much more once I've seen the films we saw breath taking Irish countryside.
The mountains are mostly barren and very rocky with lots of sheep wandering around.  Our bus driver said he has never hit one yet, even though he has had close calls since the sheep pretty much roam wherever they want.  The rocky landscape also means the super cute Connemara Ponies are quite sure-footed and great jumpers.
Kylemore Abbey was built by Mitchell Henry in the 1860s for his wife Margaret as a honeymoon gift. (Note to future husband: You are welcome to follow suit). It's right at the foot of the mountains with the lake and amazingly beautiful Irishness. There is a Victorian Walled Garden as well which has been restored in the past few years.  As cool as it was though, its well-trimmed-perfected-shaped-and-trimmed-ness was not really as charming as the basically-over-grown-and-very-enchanted-seeming-Rock-Close-garden-deal-at-Blarney-Castle.  In a lot of ways it captured more of the Henry's British roots than the local Irish charm. 
Still a really pretty garden, just not an overly Irish-looking one
When his wife Margaret died of Nile Fever while they were on a trip in Cairo, Mitchell Henry was heartbroken and built a Neo-Gothic chapel in her memory. It's a short (and beautiful) walk down the lake from the Castle-turned-Abbey. After a few generations in the 1920s the family sold Kylemore to Benedictine nuns who turned it into an Abbey and ran a school for girls for many years. Can I just point out how much I want to go to high school in a castle? In mountains! On a lake! In Ireland! In a castle!!! I might even consider becoming a nun if I got to live in a gorgeous abbey like this.
The nuns who took over at Kylemore were super hardcore. As in their abbey in Belgium was bombed and destroyed near the beginning of World War One the hard-core-Benedictine-nuns grabbed their few things and left on foot then walked for days until they bumped into some Red Cross workers who helped them get to England. Then they purchased Kylemore and began the school and tours.  It's a particularly wonderful place to tour when one has recently started watching Downton Abbey which is a particularly wonderful show.
My knee was doing its very best to communicate extreme dislike for me
so I'm slightly slanted in all of the photos from that day.
Kylemore Abbey and the Connemara were phenomenal and it was fun to see them while Jamie and Jessica were visiting, even if it lacked any cows to milk or hills to roll down (at least hills that were more grassy and less pure muddy). 

1 comment:

  1. Your blog makes me happy. Thanks for the oh-so-awesome posts! (See, your writing style is getting to me)