Image from www.kylemoreabbey.com
Mitchell Henry was born outside Manchester in 1826. Though he was born in England, Henry was very proud and outspoken about his Irish blood.
As a young man he trained in medicine, then took over his father's cotton business before eventually becoming involved in politics. This is the pathway that led him to Ireland as he became the Member of Parliament for Galway in 1871. When his father died, Henry inherited a large sum of money which he used to buy an estate in the west of Ireland where he would make his home.
Henry also married an Irish woman, Margaret Vaughan from County Down. The pair were wed in 1852, and it was for his wife that Henry built the lavish Kylemore Abbey (at the time called Kylemore Castle). Nestled between mountains and sitting at the edge of a lake, Kylemore Abbey is now one of the most visited buildings in Ireland and is certainly the jewel of Connemara. Building commenced in 1867, but sadly Margaret would not live to enjoy her beautiful home for long. She passed away in Egypt in 1875 after a battle with fever.
After his wife's death Henry limited his time at Kylemore, eventually moving back to England and selling the estate to the Duke and Duchess of Manchester in 1903.
Mitchell Henry left a strong legacy, not only in the form of Kylemore Abbey, but also in the work that he did for the people of Galway. As their representative in Parliament, Henry held a sympathetic view towards the Irish, which was unusual at the time. At a time when the English landlords in Ireland were notorious for their poor treatment of tenants, Henry broke from the tendancies towards cruelty and treated his tenants with kindness and empathy.
Mitchell Henry died in England on the 22nd of November 1910 at the age of 84.