On the grounds of Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara region of Galway, you will find the Henry Mausoleum, a small and simple brick building that houses the remains of Mitchell and Margaret Henry, the original owners of Kylemore.
The Henry Mausoleum is not just a tomb, but a testament to the love story that inspired the creation of Kylemore Abbey. Mitchell Henry was a wealthy doctor and politician who fell in love with Margaret Vaughan, a beautiful and intelligent woman from a prominent family. They married in 1852 and had nine children. They were devoted to each other and shared a passion for travel, philanthropy, and nature.
In 1867, they bought the Kylemore estate, which consisted of 13,000 acres of land, lakes, mountains, and forests. They decided to build their dream home there, a castle that would reflect their tastes and values. They hired architects, engineers, craftsmen, and gardeners to transform the landscape into a paradise. They also built schools, hospitals, churches, and roads for the local community. They named their castle Kylemore, which means “the big wood” in Irish.
Kylemore Castle was completed in 1871 and became a haven for the Henry family and their guests. They enjoyed fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, and hosting lavish parties. They also cultivated their interests in art, literature, music, and science. They were happy and fulfilled at Kylemore, until tragedy struck in 1874.
That year, they went on a family holiday to Egypt with their six surviving children. Margaret contracted dysentery during the trip and died at the age of 45. Mitchell was heartbroken and inconsolable. He decided to bring her body back to Kylemore and build a mausoleum for her in the woods near the castle. He also built a neo-Gothic church as a memorial to her.
The mausoleum is a modest structure with yellow brick walls and a gable roof. It has two windows on each side and a door on the front. Inside, there are two marble sarcophagi that contain the remains of Margaret and Mitchell. Margaret’s sarcophagus has an inscription that reads: “Margaret beloved wife of Mitchell Henry died at Cairo 25th January 1874 aged 45 years”. Mitchell’s sarcophagus has an inscription that reads: “Mitchell Henry died at London 16th April 1910 aged 86 years”.
The mausoleum is surrounded by trees and flowers that create a peaceful atmosphere. It is accessible by a short walk from the neo-Gothic church. It is open to visitors who wish to pay their respects to the couple who made Kylemore possible. The Henry Mausoleum is a reminder of the power of love and the fragility of life. It is also a symbol of the legacy that Mitchell and Margaret left behind at Kylemore Abbey, which is now home to a community of Benedictine nuns who continue their work of education, hospitality, and spirituality.
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