A little bit of history

John D’Arcy (1785-1839)

Abbeyglen Castle was built in 1832 by John D’Arcy of Clifden Castle.

Born in Kiltullagh in 1785, John D’Arcy inherited land in Connemara and in 1812 established the town of Clifden.

Clifden town (An Clochan),  was one of the last towns to be built in Ireland.

D’Arcy’s vision was to create a thriving commercial centre in a resource rich, but poverty stricken region.

He hoped that the town would raise the living standards throughout the area by exploiting the rich fishing, wool and marble resources in the locality.


Abbeyglen Castle was leased to the then Parish priest as Glenowen House.  In 1854 it was bought by the Irish Church Mission Society for use as a Protestant orphanage, where girls were trained for domestic service.


Connemara Orphan Nurseries


The Connemara Orphan Nurseries operated until 1955 when it  closed due to financial difficulties.

In its final years it became a mixed orphanage with, for example, seven boys and four girls in 1953.  These were supported by donations from local patrons plus various investments.








After closure the building fell derelict and was home to cattle and sheep for some time.  The property was purchased by Mr Padraig Joyce of Clifden, and he and his wife operated the Glenowen House Hotel in the 1960s.

Paul and Brian Hughes

The Hughes family interest began in 1969 and, since then, they have developed Abbeyglen Castle into one of Connemara’s premier hotels.