Katherine Corcoran ’81 | March 12, 2021
In the wilds of western Ireland, Sister Máire Hickey, OSB, walks. Most every day. In her long, black habit. Through the dormant farmland of Kylemore Abbey. Though she sticks to the gravel pathways, the 82-year-old Benedictine nun is sometimes spattered by rain or whipped by the Atlantic winds — strong enough to knock a person to the ground.
“I just look around to see what can I hold on to until the wind has passed,” she says with a chuckle. “Not much more I can do.”
Mother Máire, as she is known, is the abbess of Kylemore, a monastic community that for 100 years has tended acres of glacial valley, mountains and lakes in the Connemara coastal region north and west of Galway. The grounds are anchored by a breathtaking neo-Gothic castle so much a symbol of Ireland that it appears as the watermark on the country’s passport pages.
“It’s a fairytale landscape,” says Michael Gibbons, a local archeologist who knows every burial site and bog of Kylemore and Connemara. “You turn a corner and suddenly you’ve got this magical Victorian palace overlooking the lake. It literally stops traffic dead in the road.”
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