Kylemore Abbey considered for Bollywood film scene


WHEN TWO Indian princesses were sent to school at Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey, a local priest expressed his concern to the abbess about the effect they might have on the other pupils.

That was Ireland in the 1920s, but there will be no such qualms in the locality nine decades later if the abbey becomes the setting for a romantic scene in a Bollywood film.

Kylemore was among several locations visited in the west this week by a reconnaissance team of Indian film-makers.

The team, which also visited NUI Galway’s campus and the university city’s so-called “Latin quarter”, undertook the visit with the assistance of Fáilte Ireland and the Galway Film Centre.

The reconnaissance comes on the heels of Ek Tha Tiger (Once There was a Tiger), starring Bollywood leading lights Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. It was shot in Ireland last year and has just been released in India and elsewhere.

Tourism Ireland had worked in partnership with the Irish Film Board and Dermott Cleary of Fantastic Films to bring that project to Ireland, and has now been approached to assist with the location for what is known as a “movie song”. The song, involving male and female leads, will be a key sequence in Dabangg 2, billed as a continuation of the exploits of Chulbul “Robin Hood” Pandey, as played by Salman Khan.

The song focuses on “love, celebration and togetherness”, and Kylemore Abbey, Ballynahinch Castle, Clifden and several areas of Connemara have been suggested as suitably romantic sets.

Kylemore was built by Manchester textile manufacturer Mitchell Henry between 1867 and 1871. It was later acquired by Benedictine nuns and turned into a school. Among its first pupils were two nieces of Indian prince Ranjitsinhji or “Ranji”, who bought Ballynahinch Castle in 1926.