Shortly after arriving in Ireland I quickly fell in love with the country of endless fields painted in every shade of green and adorned with castles that seem to appear off in the distance no matter where I drove. Starting in Galway I explored the West Atlantic Way en route to Kylemore Abbey previously known as Kylemore Castle to see the fairytale worthy castle that is one Ireland’s top tourist attractions.
Although sometimes on very narrow roads, that might make North American’s cringe with the steep cliffs on one side the route is best left after you’ve had a few days of driving practice in Ireland and are comfortable driving on the left side of the road, or you could always take a tour bus. The drive though is one you would not want to miss, as taking the route from Galway to Kylemore Abbey you will drive through towns where all the signs will switch to Gaelic (short of tourist road signs which may have English too).
Throughout your drive, you will pass mountain ranges, lochs, and bogs where you will see free-range sheep and the popular Connemara Ponies that originated in this area living and are now bought around the world as the horses are considered to be good for competitions because of their atheism.
Kylemore Castle was built in the 1800s by a wealthy businessman but later was purchased be Benedictine Sisters who converted the castle to Kylemore Abbey in 1920. Today you can visit the Abbey to explore the walled gardens or take guided tours inside the abbey.
While there wasn’t much within the Abbey open to the public to tour, exploring the gardens and seeing the beautiful castle in the background is a true delight. Even on a rainy day, I enjoyed strolling around the well-maintained gardens, seeing the sheep walking around the castle, and eating some of the scones and lemon curd that the sisters make and sell.
After taking in one last view of the castle I was ready for the one hour drive back to Galway. The beautiful former castle situated in Connemara is well worth the visit, especially if you love castles and architecture as much as I do.