This was not my first visit to Kylemore Abbey although it was my most successful trip there. On my first venture to Ireland I had made plans to see it, because it had a working pottery and I was on a bus man's holiday. Tourism was not then what it is now and since it was closed in early May, definitely the "shoulder season" in those days, I made do with this very same view. I had no idea then of how large an estate it was nor how incredibly beautiful it would remain for the many years that had passed between trips to Ireland.
It's open all year long these days and allows for limited tours of the house and full tours of the gardens. Set on a lake, man made I believe since it is basically a reservoir for the property, it is stunning as you approach. Like Botticelli's Venus Rising From the Sea, the Abbey is an ageless beauty.
The lower floors were available for viewing. I'm certain it was a lavish lifestyle in its day since the dining room was massive and the china and silver service on display were lovely, but I really would have preferred to see the living quarters and especially the kitchen. Luckily, when touring the gardens we were able to see how the grounds manager and his staff lived; quite a bit more modestly I should say.
The reservoir is vital to the grounds, but also provides an appealing venue for recreation; swimming and rowing were two of those activities. I believe the girls who were schooled here had few complaints about the grounds.
The gardens were divided into aesthetic and functional areas. Some were left to look wild and others were well manicured for social functions. The kitchen garden was a world unto itself and was completely surrounded by garden walls.