A little taste of Christmas at Kylemore

A little taste of Christmas at Kylemore

The sisters of Kylemore Abbey are a hardworking group of nuns who welcome tens of thousands of eager visitors each year to their home in the heart of Connemara. The nuns are famous for their delicious home-baking and the wholesome food in the abbey restaurant and tea rooms.

Built as a breath-taking castle in 1868 by Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret, the Benedictine Community of nuns arrived at Kylemore Abbey in 1920 after their abbey in Ypres, Belgium was destroyed in the early months of World War I.

Settling at Kylemore, the Benedictine Community opened a world-renowned boarding school for girls and began restoring the Abbey, gothic church and Victorian walled garden to their former glory. Kylemore Abbey is now one of Ireland’s best loved and most iconic tourist attractions.

The nuns’ new book, A Flavour of Kylemore Abbey, is filled with mouth-watering recipes, including favourites from the abbey restaurant and tearooms, such as Kylemore’s own Connemara Lamb Stew and Traditional Apple Pies. It also gives an exclusive glimpse into life at Kylemore Abbey, with beautiful photographs of the estate by award-winning photographer Valerie O’Sullivan, capturing the woodland, the lakeshore walks and the gorgeous gardens.

There is also a section with recipes specifically for Christmas, which is a special time at the abbey, when locals and visitors join the community in celebration, especially for the Christmas carols service. Wonderfully bedecked Christmas trees, brightly lit fires and candlelight create a mystical atmosphere. The aromatic smells of Christmas abound as Christmas cakes, puddings, cranberry sauce, ham glaze, chutneys and mince pies are prepared. Beautifully crafted Christmas decorations adorn the Abbey for this most holy of celebrations that is a timeless memory in the making for those who visit Kylemore together with neighbours and friends.

A Flavour of Kylemore Abbey is published by Columba Books (€24.99).





The fruit

55g candied peel

55g cut washed cherries

300g raisins

300g sultanas

80g flaked almonds

juice and zest of an orange

10 ml brandy


The cake

200g butter

200g dark Barbados sugar

4 eggs

200g plain flour

40g self raising flour

40g ground almonds

a pinch of salt

3 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg



The night before you make the cake, mix together the fruit, flaked almonds, orange zest and rind and soak in the brandy.

Prepare a 20cm round fruit cake tin and double layer with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 130°C and place your shelf just below the middle of the oven.

Cream the butter until pale, then add the sugar and beat for three minutes.

Whisk the eggs. Sieve together the flours, ground almonds, salt and spices. Transfer the butter mixture into a large mixing bowl then slowly add the whisked eggs and then fold in the flour mixture.

Add the fruit, being careful to scrape the fruit bowl well – all the juice belongs to the cake.

Turn into the lined tin and hollow out the centre. Wet your hand well and pinch the fruit under the surface of the mix to stop it burning. Place in the oven for 2 hours 20 minutes.

When cooked allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes and then splash brandy on top. When the cake is completely cold, wrap it first in greaseproof paper, then in brown paper and finally in cling film.





1.2kg mixed dried fruit (we use a mix of sultanas, raisins, currants and mixed peel)

110g glacé cherries

450g brown sugar

450g breadcrumbs

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mixed spice

ó tsp nutmeg

170g self -raising flour

170g vegetable suet

170g nibbed almonds

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 cooking apple, peeled and grated

2 tbsp treacle

6 eggs, beaten

Grated rind and juice of one lemon and one orange

175ml whiskey

280ml stout (you may need a little more)


This quantity will make three 2lb-Christmas puddings.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Add the grated carrot and apple and mix. Mix together the eggs, lemon and orange rind and juice, treacle, whiskey and stout. Add this to pudding mixture. Leave to stand overnight. The following day fill pudding bowls to within about 3cm of the rim.

Cover the mix with a lid or alternatively with two layers of greaseproof paper and tie down the sides. Steam for six hours in a saucepan of simmering water, taking care that no water enters the pudding bowl.