Kylemore Abbey fights back to survive but expect the recovery to be slow and gradual


1920 marked the arrival of a group of Benedictine nuns from Belgium to Kylemore Abbey, in the heart of Connemara, County Galway. World War I had just ended and their abbey near Ypres had been destroyed. They faced a big challenge back then, and now 100 years later they face another significant challenge as their business is impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.

Up to the time of the commencement of the pandemic the Abbey welcomed over half a million visitors, and during 2020 saw that figure reduce by 70%. With no International visitors, a trading period that lasted only 5 months, the Abbey have been forced to look at other areas of activity to survive and get through this period. On-line sales in the shop and to develop spiritual retreats are part of the plans for the future.

From a coach operator’s point of view it may be some time until tour visitor numbers return in any big way. Executive Director at the Abbey, Conor Coyne, said that they had originally hoped to see activity and revenues return to 40% in 2021. However, he feels as it will be Summer at least before they open their doors. that projection will likely be revised downwards. More worryingly though is that the projection is now looking towards 2022 – “Hopefully back to 60% of the 2019 figure” – he added.  Regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost tourist attractions, over 100 people were employed there during the Summer of 2019, Conor said that there is no doubt that the attraction will survive and thrive.