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Formerly a school and a palatial private estate, Kylemore Abbey sits at the base of a steep hill with the mountain-backdropped Pollacappul Lake as its front yard. Down the road from it is the estate’s huge, beautiful Victorian walled garden. The dramatic landscape makes the abbey a magical place to drive by, and it’s also well worth stopping in for a visit.
The abbey was originally built in the 19th century as a residence by the Henry family. It was later sold to the Duke of Manchester, then to a banker, and then it became home to an order of Benedictine nuns who fled the Continent in World War I. In 1923, it became Kylemore Abbey School, and ran as such until 2010. Since then it’s been a tourist attraction and is used by the University of Notre Dame and the Connemara Maths Academy.