After we filled up on cookies at the top of our hike we headed back down the hill. The way down, as ever, was much faster than the way up. Though, not as fast as it usually is given how genuinely scary the wind was. I feel like in my last post I hyped the wind quite a bit but I’m not kidding when I say it felt like it was going to blow us right off the side of the hill. In fact, just as I was about to tap my dad on the shoulder to get him to turn around and check out the view I watched him just kind of tilt sideways and fall over. Thank goodness he fell towards the mountain and not away from it because I am not one of those ninja heroes that catches a person as they’re falling. I saw him falling just long enough to think, “uh-oh” then look down and ask if he was ok. He was. Apparently, he took a step and forgot to account for the wind and it blew his foot right out from under him. This wind was no joke. When we finally got to the bottom we spent some time in the cafe below the museum/help desk area to relax for a moment and eat some sandwiches.
We found ourselves headed to the car by just a little after noon, which was much earlier than we had anticipated. So we decided that we would take the long way home and anywhere at all that we were even a little bit curious about, we stop and check it out. Not even five minutes down the road we saw a sign that read, “Kylemore Abbey Visitors Welcome”. We were curious. So we pulled into the parking lot and found a lot more than we anticipated. To begin with, the parking lot was huge. I know that
is kind of a petty thing to start with but when you think you’re pulling up to a tiny little side of the road attraction a gigantic parking lot is the first sign that you’re about to see something a bit bigger than you were expecting. We realized quickly that it would cost some money to get in and wander around but we found a map of the grounds and decided that there was enough to see that it would be worth it. Holy smokes were we right.
Kylemore Abbey was originally a castle built by a Politician from London, it was then sold to a Duke and Duchess who had to sell it quickly because of gambling debts (classic) and they sold it to Benedictine Nuns who had to flee Belgium during WWI. The nuns call it an Abbey…which I guess I understand but if you can say you live in a castle, why wouldn’t you? We got a quick tour of parts of the main floor of the castle which was interesting but the real highlight was walking around the grounds. There’s a path that leads from the Abbey and follows along the lake in front of it for a few kilometers. Just a little ways down is a tiny chapel. This chapel was built by Mitchell Henry, the original owner, for his wife and it is literally a mini cathedral. It is at once adorable and gorgeous. The path continues on a little ways further and after consulting our map we decided to follow it to the end. After the hike we were just on it was sweet relief to be walking on a path completely shielded from the wind and the sun had finally come out. We couldn’t resist a little stroll through the woods. We turned a corner and were surprised by giant fingers coming out of the ground. I have to say, it was not the art I was expecting from the abbey but it was exactly my type of weird. I officially want to make friends with someone who can do that exact same thing in the Northwoods at my parents cabin. Hit me up if you can and want to make it look like a giant is crawling out of the ground.
The abbey offers a bus from the castle area to the gardens area and when we walked up to the stop we decided that we had earned a bus ride after all the walking we’d done that morning and afternoon so we hung out for a few minutes and waited for the bus. It was just a few kilometers which meant it was a luxurious and very short few minutes riding the bus before we were up and out again exploring the garden. This garden was gigantic and nestled in a sort of valley between the mountains in Connemara, which was just beauty upon beauty to look at. Everything you could possibly imagine that can grow in Ireland was in this garden and if it wasn’t in the one you were in you could wander through the hedge and check out the next one or the one after that. There was so much to see that we were relieved when we realized that overlooking the gardens was a Tea Room where we could get a little something to eat and enjoy sitting down for just a little while.
We got back to the entrance area and went to check out the gift shop. And this is where I feel a little bit bad for dad. The gift shop was an impressive one and I had decided at the beginning of the trip that I’d kind of like to buy a sweater. So I had a mission and I took it very seriously, which meant I was looking at sweaters for a very long time. There was one that was a little more expensive and I wasn’t sure if I should cash out the money for it or not. Either out of wisdom or exasperation at having to wait for me, my dad finally said, “You may as well go for it, the trip is almost over.” Well, that was all the encouragement I needed, really. I went to the cash register determined that spending this money was a good idea. Turns out this was true for more than one reason. Apparently the nuns of Kylemore Abbey make their own Country Cream, which is the Kylemore Abbey version of Bailey’s basically, and if you spend over one hundred Euros you get a bottle for free. Not a bad gift shop trip for me!
We ended up spending about four hours at Kylemore Abbey and we were pretty darn tired so we didn’t end up taking the long way back to Galway. We got back with just enough time to wander around the shops and buy some chocolate and socks before we settled down for our last few Guinness’s in Galway.