The Abbey of the Holy Cross was a Dominican Friary established in Arklow in the year 1264, at the invitation of Theobald FitzWalter, Chief Butler of Ireland who had been granted the town of Arklow and its hinterlands in around 1185.
There is evidence of the importance placed on the Abbey when in 1414 Pope John XXII granted an indulgence to those who visited the Abbey in Arklow. This gave freedom to people from being punished for previously committed sins, which points to the possibility of a relic of the Holy Cross being kept in the Abbey, however there is no concrete evidence of this.
The Abbey was suppressed in 1539, the Dominicans and the friars abandoned the Abbey, and it fell into ruins with no trace of the original structure today. The adjacent Abbey Cemetery is all that remains, as well as the limestone cross said to have come from the Abbey Church.
Musket balls have been found embedded in the cemetery dry stone walls, relics of the 1798 rebellion, which saw one of the bloodies battles of the Irish Rebeilion take place in Arklow, with rebel casualties estimated at about 1,000. For more information on this you can read the historic panels on display within the Cemetery walls.
This spiritual oasis of peace is home to a wonderful display of roses in Summer, which were chosen for the garden due to their symbolic link to Christianity.
Open: 10am to 4pm daily
Address: Main Street Arklow Co Wicklow
Access: Ramp and paved paths provided
Parking: in the adjacent carpark (paid)