New €2.9m Kylemore Abbey visitor experience opens to public
Multimedia presentations and a new suite of rooms are among the additions to iconic Kylemore Abbey in Connemara
A spendthrift duke and his glamorous duchess. Indian princesses. Connemara schoolgirls. And, of course, an order of devoted nuns...
Those are just some of the stories brought to life at a new, €2.9 million visitor experience officially opening at Kylemore Abbey and Walled Gardens today.
From Generation to Generation… The Story of Kylemore Abbey promises to take visitors on a vivid journey through the history of the iconic building.
Overseen by archivist Damien Duffy and interior designer Joanne Smyth, it includes a new suite of "four authentically refurbished rooms" and a multimedia presentation evoking tales of romance, innovation, politics and spirituality.
Among the restored Victorian interiors, characters and stories, of course, is that of the order of Bendictine nuns that has called Kylemore home since 1920.
"The new experience embraces the contribution of the Benedictines to the survival of Kylemore as it exists today, and allows us to share our beautiful home with all who come to visit,” says Sr Máire Hickey OSB, Mother Abbess of the community.
The exhibition provides "a taste of life in early-20th-century west of Ireland," says Tourism Minister, Shane Ross, who launches it this evening.
"Stirring historical footage, archive photographs and artefacts, state-of-the-art speaking portraits and beautifully updated period rooms" are also promised.
Developed with the aid of a €1.7m grant by Fáilte Ireland, the reboot also sees new landscaping and access improvements for visitors with reduced mobility.
Entry to the abbey, its 1,000-acre estate and walled gardens costs €14pp (or €12.60 if booked online, seven days in advance), with kids under 10 going free.
Kylemore was originally built by the politician and surgeon Mitchell Henry in the 1860s, and last year attracted 300,000 paying visitors - making it the largest employer in Connemara.
Fáílte Ireland, which part-funded the project under its Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects 2016-2020, hopes its investment will grow those numbers still further.
The experience is "the perfect example of how attractions steeped in history and Irish culture can use new technology to provide a truly immersive experience of Ireland for visitors," said Orla Carroll, its Head of Product Development.
Construction on a new monastery is due to start later this year.