Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

It may seem strange for a nature writer to focus on an abbey but it was a magical place that seemed very much in harmony with the spirits of the land. When we visited, it was under repair so I couldn’t photograph it. What I noticed was the seamless integration of human and nature. And….I had an experience there that still makes me laugh.

Rain was steadily falling as we added a top layer of waterproof jackets and pants to keep us dry. I brought along a collapsible umbrella to protect my camera. Ireland is known for its rain and changeable weather. But that day the radar showed rain rain rain rain rain.

I like the inner stillness that comes from being outside in rain. It’s not easy to extend my energy out there when rain is constantly giving a soft boundary that is immediate to my physical body. Even the drip drip drip of sprinkles insist on my being mindful of the present moment. Keep my camera dry, keep my head dry, stay focused on this right here.

The Abbey is huge and beautiful but I was more drawn to the trail that wandered through the grounds. We passed a small waterfall that emptied eventually into the beautiful lake. The mountains of Connemara were the backdrop of the still water.

A walk along Lough Pollacapull led to a small chapel that was simply stunning. The dark, wet stones seemed part of the woodlands. The inside was carved with beautiful nature elements. It was the most deeply peaceful chapel I’d ever visited. I felt surrounded by sweetness. This was most likely due to the chapel’s devotion to Mary.

I’m not Catholic but there were candles and I felt inspired to light one. I put my donation in and attempted to light the candle. I thought there were wicks already in the glass holders. My intention…. light a candle in prayer for ‘the’ man to enter my life. I had been six years single and in a deep healing process….sort of like a nun. I wasn’t looking for a man but should a compassionate, nature-loving, working-on-his-healing, creative one arrive in my life…I was open.

Frustratingly, the candle refused to light. I started to look around and noticed the box of small, white candles under the donation box. Doh! Lesson–if you want to invite your soulmate into your life make sure there’s something to actually call him to….in other words, show up! I was relieved that Gabriela and I were the only ones there as I felt a little ridiculous. I know the security footage from that day must be especially entertaining.

Later I discovered that Mitchell Henry built the castle in the late 1800’s, inspired by his love for his wife. His wife died and the chapel was built in memory of her. No wonder the energy there is so sweet. The love was palpable.

The gardens were magical, even with formal design and plantings. And all around were gigantic trees, perhaps saved from logging many centuries ago. I had a most profound experience with an old tree.

I stopped and put my forehead against the rough bark. I said, show me. I began to feel dizzy as images flashed through my mind like turning pages of a book very fast. Slow down, please, I whispered. Finally, the images slowed and came to rest on one of a small tree. I ‘heard’ a raspy whisper, Once I was a tiny tree and look at me now. Never give up. Always believe in yourself.

The Abbey and surrounding land shows that humans can interact with nature and live in harmony by practicing respect. Nature spirits can be celebrated in the design and operations of a place…even a big place. If humans are mindful of the energies of a place, there can be mutually beneficial existence. When we inhabit an area our presence doesn’t have to destroy the magic.

Ireland is a deeply dwelled in landscape with a long history of habitation by humans. And yet the energies of nature are strong and very present. I suspect this is because there is still a great respect, in many areas, of the Shining Ones that remain. I say this in reference to the rural areas–I didn’t feel that positive vibe near the airport in Dublin. The growth there has been exponentially destructive over the past ten years. It is my hope that the energies of nature will be honored and remembered because in my experience, that is why Ireland is such an incredible place.


Kylemore Abbey, as it is now called, is a Benedictine Abbey operated by nuns. They arrived in 1920 after their Abbey in Ypres, Belgium was destroyed during World War I.

The Neo-Gothic church, as it is called, is described as a ‘Cathedral in Miniature. It was built in the style of a 14th century gothic cathedral.

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