Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Story of Kylemore Abbey --

Always be on the lookout for sheep!

Do you see her? just above the window sticker :)

And I have to giggle, because the sheep farmers out here will “tag” their sheep by painting a spot on their wool in a certain color as a marking to show their ownership, or if this sheep has been vaccinated, or perhaps if this sheep has been bred.

One lady on the bus asked “Why are these sheep blue?”

And our driver, Noel –didn’t skip a beat!  He said in the most marvelous Irish brogue ever heard…”Those are special sheep –reserved for making BLUE SWEATERS!”

And we all laughed ourselves silly.

The next little bit down the road there were sheep roaming around bearing pink markings…and someone was heard to yell out – “Look! PINK SWEATERS!!”  It’s all too fun, and we love seeing the sheep wandering along their way, even if it means we fear for their lives when they get in the road and we have to slow down.

What do you get when you cross a blue sheep with a pink sheep?  PURPLE sheep! :cD

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We were on our way to Kylemore Abbey, about 2-1/2 hours outside of Galway, toward the mountains.

See that raised terrain on the right?  PEAT!  Peat is a traditional Irish fuel source, the product of thousands of years of plant life that had grown and died, grown and died, grown and died layer upon layer until the earth is a spongy mass of vegitation.  The peat is cut and dried in the sun until it is rock hard and burnable as heating and cooking fuel.

Noel stopped the bus, ran out…..picked a brick of peat from the pile and ran it back over to us so we could examine it.  This is SNEAKY PEAT!

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It’s not as heavy as it looks…but it is dry and hard and it burns a slow smoldering heat.

Peat isn't used as much for fuel now as it was in the past.  Peat fields are being preserved because when the peat is gone, the peat is gone…it will take hundreds of thousands of years of plant life for it to build again.

Peat may not look like the most wonderful thing, but it kept many a family warm and dry and fed through many thousands of years of life here in Ireland.

It sure beats gathering buffalo chips for fuel, doesn’t it?

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Further up the road we turn into Kylemore….and this view takes my breath away.

The story of Kylemore is as follows:
((Courtesy of Wikipedia!))
Kylemore Castle was built as a private home for the family of Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London, whose family was in textile manufacturing from Manchester, England. He moved to Ireland, when he and his wife, Margaret, purchased the land around the Abbey and became a politician, and was also an MP for County Galway from 1871 to 1885.
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The castle was designed by James Franklin Fuller and Ussher Roberts. Construction first began in 1867, and took one hundred men four years to complete. The castle covered approximately 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) with over 70 rooms and the principal wall was two to three feet thick. The facade measured 142 feet (43 m) in length and is made of granite brought from Dalkey by sea to Letterfrack and limestone from Ballinasloe.
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There were 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 for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. Several other building including a Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum containing the bodies of Margaret Henry, Mitchell Henry and a great grand nephew.
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The Abbey remained in Henry's estate after he returned to England, and the castle was sold to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1909, they resided there several years, before being forced to sell the house and grounds due to gambling debts.
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In 1920 the Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle and lands after they were forced to flee Ypres, Belgium during World War I. Previously the nuns, who had been based in Ypres for several hundred years, had been bombed out of their Abbey during World War I. The nuns continued to offer education to Catholic girls, and opened an international boarding school and established a day school for local girls. They were forced to close the school in June 2010.
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The Estate includes large walled Victorian Gardens, which have been open since the 70s, to public tours and 'nature' walks. The Benedictine community have restored the Abbey's gardens and Cathedral with donations and local artisans, in order to be a self-sustaining estate.
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The grounds were unbelievably lovely, and I found myself wandering…from the house…up the manicured lane to the memorial chapel that Mitchell Henry had built in honor of his wife, Margaret.  From there I wandered further on to the mausoleum that inters them both.

There are too many photos and I love them all…it was SUCH a beautiful day and the lake mirrored everything in perfect splendor.

There are loads of photos in the slide show below, including a lot of duplicates or photos of a slightly different angle and I wanted to keep them all in one album.

Click the image below to view the photos directly in the album if you can not view the slide show on your mobile device.
Kylemore Abbey, Ireland 2013

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing your fabulous pictures with us

  2. Fascinating! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with all of us who could not join you. I will eagerly await future posts as you have time.

  3. I love castles and churches. You take such wonderful pictures to commemorate your journeys. Thanks!

  4. My family went there about six years ago. It is just beautiful. Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories.

  5. Sounds like a great place for a quilter's retreat. Load up the hand crank, and stitch in the gardens, too. Lovely! Save me one of those 'blue' sheep. Funny!

  6. gorgeous - I love touring though these kind of big estates although the ones I have been to have been much smaller than that castle

  7. I love hearing of your travels and seeing your pictures. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Pat

  8. The day I was there years ago there were several small planes in the area that circled then landed nearby. Such a peaceful place, did you buy yourself a piece of their pottery as a souvenir?
    Have you seen the black faced sheep called "killer sheep" yet? So sweet looking.

    Happy Sewing and safe travels

  9. Beautiful - thanks for taking us along!

  10. Not the same as being there but truly breathtaking. Thank you for sharing this trip with those of us who could not go!

  11. Glad you indexed all your photos like that... thanks for sharing your trip with us! What a tragic love story :) Kathi

  12. You did a wonderful job taking all those lovely pictures. It was nice to be able to tag along with you. Thanks Bonnie!

  13. IF you every retire...you could be tour guide! :) Love your photos and your descriptions. Thanks for taking us along.

  14. Oh, I so wish I was with you! I love history like this castle! What a great adventure you are having! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Thank you for sharing your pictures. They are wonderful.

  16. That was another one of our stops when we were there in '96. A beautiful country. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and your photos!

  17. What a beautiful castle to look at, thank you for sharing your journey with us. Must say though with 33 bedrooms and only 4 bathrooms they would have had a long wait in the morning to shower (maybe there was a roster:)).

  18. Wouldn't those geometrics of the buildings be great for quilt designing???? My brain can imagine but just not gifted enough to execute the designs!

  19. We all wish we were with you! Thanks for posting it's great to hear about the trip! Deb

  20. So, your tellin me "Pete's peat is past it's peak". Groan back at cha.

  21. Don't know if the nuns still do pottery, but they have a set with fuscias (those gorgeous purple or pink flowers that grow in hedges in Ireland) on them. My one regret is not buying a piece of pottery while we were at Kylemore.

  22. Hehehe. Your driver was used to speaking to foreigners! He should have said "blue jumpers"

  23. Lovely pictures. Wish I were there with you. Thanks so much for taking such great pictures to share with us. That castle WOULD be a perfect place for a quilt retreat - just need to add a few more bathrooms for that many ladies.

  24. Beautiful pictures, thanks for the great tour of the country side and all the wonderful pictures!

  25. I almost died laughing at the painted sheep. Thank for including that.

  26. Bonnie, that picture "tour" of the castle is splendid. All the gorgeous landscapes. The magnificent buildings. Thank you for taking every single one of those pictures and sharing with us.

    But really, 4 bathrooms?

  27. We had a peat fireplace in our cottage in Ireland. Burned peat every night and loved it!


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