Kylemore Abbey was finally completed in 1874. However, Margaret did not live long to enjoy her beautiful new home. Just four years after it was finished, she fell ill during a holiday in Egypt and died shortly afterwards at the relatively young age of 45. Broken-hearted, Mitchell threw himself into local politics and became an MP for Galway and a founding member of the Home Rule movement. In 1878, he had the beautiful neo-Gothic church constructed as a memorial to his beloved wife, with four different types of coloured marble from the four provinces of Ireland. On his death in 1910, he was laid to rest next to Margaret in the little mausoleum in a wooded glade on the grounds of the estate.
The house and estate was sold to the Cincinnati oil baron Eugene Zimmerman, who gave it to his daughter as a wedding gift when she married the Duke of Manchester. The couple carried out a number of alterations to the house, removing some of the stark gothic splendour and enlarging rooms. However the duke, the impressively named William Angus Drogo Montagu, was a notorious spendthrift, who loved a lavish lifestyle and gambling, and he soon became bankrupt not long after purchasing the estate.
The estate was purchased by Benedictine nuns, who needed a base as they were fleeing the dangerous violence of Ypres, Belgium during the First World War. It was at this time that Kylemore Castle became more popularly known as Kylemore Abbey.
Today Kylemore Abbey is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Ireland. In recent years, the site has had investment in its conservation and interpretation, making it a rewarding place to visit. Especially given the truly stunning setting in the heart of Connemara.
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