I admit I wasn’t convinced when I saw the flier for Kylemore Abbey in our holiday house. My immediate reaction was that it sounded boring, and that the kids wouldn’t like it.
Then, I cast my prejudices aside and set about reading the brochure rather than just looking at the pictures. I read about the walled garden, and the gothic church and the children’s play trail, and I looked at the picture of the Abbey that was originally called Kylemore Castle, and I decided it was a “must do” on our holiday.
The Abbey is located just outside Letterfrack on the Westport Road. It’s the number 1 tourist attraction in the west of Ireland according to their website.
First things first, admission is expensive. At €13 per adult it’s a relief to hear that kids under 10 go free. (I later discovered that we could have saved by booking online, ah well). However, with the kids going free, that softens the cough and €26 for the family isn’t too bad.
We arrived, parked the car and took the bridge to the ticket office, check out the view from the bridge. Nestled in the mountains and overlooking a lake, it’s as picturesque a setting as you can get.
Having briefly checked out the model of the abbey in the ticket office we headed down the play trail to walk to the walled garden. The playtrail was a great way to keep the boys interested in the walk. The road itself, while wooded, is quite busy as shuttle buses run up and down to the walled garden every 10 minutes or so, which meant we were watching the boys a bit to keep them out of the path of buses, but the buses pass slowly and are used to watching out for little boys.
The first playstop is only metres from the start of the trail entrance, a hanging xylophone. This involves bashing the xylophone pieces with a big stick. Bashing things with sticks is a favourite pastime of my children so they loved this activity.
There are lots more stops on the playtrail, so many that I’ve done a fancy slideshow to show you rather than clutter up the blogpost- it’s down there at the bottom of this post.
At the end of the playtrail, after about 20 minutes walking with children you enter the Victorian Walled Garden. I was amazed by it, it’s just beautiful, so well tended, manicured lawns, glasshouses, vegetables growing. The boys galloped around and pointed out the different plants and vegetables growing.
We adjourned to the tea rooms, and were pleasantly surprised with the offerings, homemade soup, quiches and sandwiches of excellent quality and very reasonably priced. (There’s another fancier looking restaurant at the entrance too if you’re looking for a bigger feed.) We sat outside and took in the view before getting the shuttle bus back to the abbey, thankfully the kids didn’t remember to sing “the wheels on the bus”.
Entry to the abbey including a film in also included in entry, we went in but the boys didn’t have the patience for the film and just went around looking for knights and trying to bash the keys on the piano.
We had a lovely day out, so much so that when Granny and Grandad came to visit the following week they wanted to go too, so we went with them. Sure we couldn’t leave them go by themselves.
Disclaimer: I wasn’t asked to carry out this review and we paid for our own tickets.