As you round yet another bend on the particularly barren stretch of country road around Kylemore, this extraordinary neo-Gothic abbey looms into view, at the base of a wooded hill across mirror-like Kylemore Lake. The facade of the main building—a vast, crenelated 19th-century house—is a splendid example of neo-Gothic architecture. In 1920, its owners donated it to the Benedictine nuns, and the sisters have run a convent boarding school here ever since. You can see a little of the interior, but it’s disappointingly plain; the exterior and the grounds are the real reason to visit, especially that breathtaking view across the lake. The highlight is the restored Gothic chapel, an exquisite cathedral in miniature with a plain, somber cemetery to one side; and don’t miss the lavish Victorian walled garden. Free, short history talks take place inside the abbey at 11:30am, 1pm, and 3pm daily. From June to August a free guided tour of the walled gardens is given daily at noon. The complex includes a decent restaurant that serves produce grown on the nuns’ farm, as well as tea and good scones, a shop with a working pottery studio, and a visitor center. The abbey is most atmospheric when the bells are rung for midday office or for vespers at 6pm.