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Revenues Decreased At Co. Galway's Kylemore Abbey Last Year

Published on Nov 23 2021 2:00 PM in Hotel tagged: Connemara / Kylemore Abbey / COVID-19

Revenues Decreased At Co. Galway's Kylemore Abbey Last Year

A near €1.5 million insurance payout for business interruption during lockdown helped Kylemore Abbey and Gardens in Connemara, one of the country’s top visitor attractions, cushion the blow of a decline close to 75% in its revenues last year as the pandemic heaped pressure on the tourism sector.

According to The Irish Times, a near-€1.5 million insurance payout for business interruption during lockdown helped Kylemore Abbey and Gardens in Connemara, one of the country's top visitor attractions, cushion the blow of a decrease close to 75% in its revenues last year as the COVID-19 pandemic heaped pressure on the tourism sector.

Visitor numbers at Kylemore, which is also home to a community of Benedictine nuns, reportedly fell to 100,000 in 2020 from around 530,000 in 2019, when it was reportedly ranked in the top 10 in terms of numbers.

However, it reportedly bounced back in 2021 by more than trebling the number of Irish visitors as domestic tourism grew, according to its executive director, Conor Coyne.

Kylemore is reportedly also targeting a surge in British visitors after it features in a primetime BBC series that will be broadcast over Christmas.

Accounts provided to The Irish Times reportedly show commercial revenues from the abbey, gardens, shop and restaurant plunged from about €7.4 million to €1.6 million.

Entry fees to the abbey and six-acre walled gardens reportedly dropped from more than €3 million to €630,000, while shop and restaurant sales reportedly fell from about €4.3 million to below €1 million.

Payroll Costs

Including other income from grants and donations, the trust that owns the abbey reportedly saw its total income fall to €3.6 million, including the insurance payout from Allianz.

After the state reportedly covered about 40% of payroll costs with pandemic subsidies, the operating company for the commercial business reportedly recorded a loss of less than €8,000.

"There were obviously negotiations had, but Allianz was very supportive of us," Coyne reportedly said.

He reportedly revealed, however, that Kylemore has had to stall the building of a new monastery on the estate, which reportedly was to have been the first built in Ireland in 400 years.

It reportedly decided not to risk drawing down bank debt for the project, which will reportedly cost well over €5 million.

Construction work had already started and may not be resumed until the tourism industry recovers, Coyne reportedly said.

"We had already laid the foundations and built the blocks up to shoulder height," he reportedly said.

The community of nuns who would occupy it, and whose predecessors moved to Kylemore 100 years ago from Ypres in postwar Belgium, currently live across three properties on the picturesque estate.

Despite the pandemic and "the most challenging year ever", Coyne reportedly remains bullish about Kylemore's future.

Visitor Demographics

Before COVID, just 10% of its visitors were reportedly Irish, with 30% reportedly from the US and only 5% reportedly from the UK - the rest reportedly came from Europe.

Irish visitor numbers were up 250% in 2021, he reportedly said.

Average spend per head reportedly also rose as 2021 visitor numbers reportedly climbed to about 160,000.

"The greater interaction with Irish visitors is the silver lining of the pandemic," said Coyne reportedly said.

Some of the nuns, who are represented on the board of trustees, reportedly work in Kylemore's chocolate kitchen and soapery, while also following a life of study and prayer on the estate.

Kylemore will reportedly be one of three monasteries featured in December in a three-part BBC programme examining life in religious orders.

The estate, which is also home to a teaching centre for Indiana-based Notre Dame University, is investing heavily in environmental projects and links with local artisan producers, Coyne reportedly said.

© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Conor Farrelly. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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