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Arklow Town Historical Sites

There are many places of interest dotted around Arklow and the surrounding area hold importance in our history. Many are lost to the past now but are interesting to read about and it may be possible to visit and admire some of these places still, or what remains of them. Some of these are:


Lamberton House:



This was the Gate Lodge of the Glenart Estate, built in 1898, and is now in use as a house. The building was constructed in squared rock-faced granite with smooth granite dressings. Directly above the door is a monogrammed inscription stone dated 1898. In years gone by, the grounds of this house were the site of a cock-fighting stadium.



St. Saviour’s Church of Ireland:



This church was built in 1899 by the 5th Earl of Carysfort and designed by the architect Sir. Arthur Bloomfield. Prior to this the protestant church had been located on Main Street, but the wealthy Glenart resident intended the building to take religion off the streets of Arklow.



Shelton Abbey:



A few kilometres outside of Arklow, in the parish of Kilbride, Shelton Abbey was once the ancestral seat of the Earls of Wicklow. The original house dates from the 1770’s and it was refurbished by the architect Morrison in 1819, who between himself and his son, also designed Killruddery House in Bray and nearby Castle Howard.


Shelton Abbey has an extension to the main house called “the nunnery” which housed the nine daughters of one of the Earls of Wicklow. In 1960, King James is said to have sheltered in Shelton after fleeing the battle of the Boyne and there was a road going through the estate called “King James Road”.


One of the Earls, who travelled extensively in Europe, gathered quite a collection of paintings by famous artists including some by Durer and Vernier. Much remains of the outside of the building which was built in the Gothic Romantic style and renovations to the interior original ceilings and walls have taken place in recent years.

Records show that in 1942 there was 1,700 acres of ‘Rough Shooting’ on Shelton Abbey Estate and the grounds are reputed to contain, some of the most mature beech and chestnut trees on the island of Ireland.


In 1951 financial difficulties forced William Howard, 8th Earl of Wicklow to sell the estate to the Irish State. For a while, Shelton was used by the state as a residential forestry training facility, and subsequent, from the 1970s, as an open prison for males who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.


Access to the building or grounds is not normally possible, however once a year the Governor, staff and residents of Shelton Abbey host an open day for the general public where they showcase their extensive gardens, home grown produce and sell home crafted and grown items in aid of local charities.


Glenart Castle




St. Mary’s and St. Peter’s, Catholic Church:



The first Catholic church erected on this site on Main Street Arklow was in 1811 - a single storied, thatched and mud-walled building. By 1850 the church was too small, and an appeal was made to build a chapel. The new church was built in 1859, designed by Patrick Byrne, an architect who was responsible for designing St. Paul’s in Arran Quay which has similar features. He was influenced by the ‘Pugin’ Gothic revival style which is found in churches and cathedrals throughout Ireland including Cobh Cathedral.


The striking ceiling was completed by Italian artisans and represents the four evangelists. The fine Carrera marble altar and stained-glass window of the Passion were presented as memorials by a local business family in the 1860’s. There are at least three burials of local priests in the floor.


Within the cupola there is a bronze bell dedicated to Rev John Redmond who presided over the main construction phase of the church. The bell depicts a relief showing scenes from the life of St Patrick. For the last 180 years the church has been a focal point for Arklow and its Roman Catholic community.

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