The contract of hotelier John Lally’s Kylemore Tourism Ltd to operate the historic Kylemore Abbey ended at the beginning of last year, with the Kylemore Trust, controlled by the Benedictine nuns, reassuming direct control of the tourist operation at the abbey. There are 11 nuns at the abbey permanently. The new accounts show that the operation at Kylemore at Connemara in Co Galway is a lucrative one.
The figures filed by Mr Lally’s Kylemore Tourism Ltd show the firm’s accumulated profits jumped from €2.25m to €3.89m in the year to the end of March 2015. Mr Lally provided management services to Kylemore Tourism Ltd that amounted to €357,954.
At peak season, Kylemore employs 140. CEO of the Kylemore Trust, Pat Lavelle, said yesterday that visitor numbers to Kylemore last year rose 15% to 300,000.
Mr Lavelle said last year “was a good year for Kylemore and it benefited from it being just off the Wild Atlantic Way and the exchange rates”. He said bookings for this year “are looking good”.
He said that the trust operates Kylemore on behalf of the nuns.
“Kylemore is not just a historical attraction, but a living one and visitors can see the nuns in their habits walking around the grounds,” said Mr Lavelle.
On future plans, Mr Lavelle said: “We have prepared a master plan in co- operation with Fáilte Ireland for the estate, so that, as and when funds are available, we will progress the plan over a ten-year period.
“Currently, we are working in partnership with Notre Dame University and will have an education facility here for up to 50 students. The students will spend two week periods here, between late May and September.”
Other courses will be scheduled by Notre Dame between October and April.
Mr Lally has teamed up with US billionaire John Malone in a number of hotel ventures here.
The Benedictine nuns first came to Kylemore in 1920 after their abbey in Ypres in Belgium was destroyed in the First World War.