A Hidden Oasis

I recently had the opportunity to visit and hear a truely remarkable story about a Castle and Abbey. The twists of fate which its occupants experienced, from moments of romance and happiness to sadness and courage which have all combined to create a fascinating history spanning over 150 years. This place is like a hidden oasis.

Mitchell Henry 1867-1903 – husband to Margaret, a father of 9 children, a doctor, industry tycoon, politician and pioneer brought many benefits to Connemara in Ireland and left a lasting impression on both the landscape and the local community.

 He was a pioneer and an innovator.

 As a honeymoon gift for his wife he purchased this 15,000 acre estate where he and his wife built a castle. He created the first model farm in the west of Ireland and cultivated the largest Victorian Walled Garden in Ireland with 21 glasshouses heated by a network of water pipes. In 1883 he generated his own electricity that resulted in a running cost of £10 per year compared with £400 for gas per year. To this day Kylemore Estate is still powered by a hydro-electric generator harnessing energy from the lake.

 He was a politician.

 He represented Galway in the house of commons for 14 years and he called for many improvements to be made for the Irish people.

 A man of generosity.

 He set up a school on Kylemore grounds for all his tenants children and reduced his tenants rents in hard times.

 His life made a difference and his story still lives on

 Saddly his wife died in 1874 during a family holiday in Egypt and Mitchell then died in 1910 but from generation to generation stories were passed down telling of this extraordinary man who built a castle in the wilderness, out of love for his wife and for Connemara and who lost a fortune in the process. Hearing his story made me wonder what really motivated this man to do what he did and achieve what he achieved ?

 We all have a story

Throughout history there have been so many amazing stories of people who have had an impact on society, who have been history makers paving the way before us. They have done extraordinary things with advancing technology, creating economic growth, designing state of the art buildings; bringing reconciliation, sharing the gospel and bringing change to nations, cities, governments, communities and peoples lives.

 I have been thinking a lot about stories recently and how powerful a shared story can be. I love listening to peoples stories – I love hearing about the journey of peoples lives and how life has brought them to the place where they find themselves today.

 Stories inspire, stories encourage and they remind us of where we have come from and about how life has shaped us.  We all have a story – a story to share – a story to write down – a story to pass on to those who walk behind us.  No matter how big or small your story – or at what stage in life you are still outworking your story –  it matters – its important – it’s playing a part in making history right where you are.

 Imagine this – our world full of collective stories all colliding. Imagine if we fully grasped and understood the real purpose of life in this world, the purpose of our existence and what we have been created for – surely we would see things in life through a different lense, as part of a much bigger story ?

 A life that is not shaped by this world or shaped by success but shaped by a Creator and His story that we have all been invited into.

 More of the story of Kylemore Abbey can be found here. Its definately worth a visit. Such a beautiful place.

Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Co.Mayo


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