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The Howard Mausoleum Pyramid

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

At the Old Kilbride Graveyard on the outskirts of Arklow Town is Arklow's Pyramid, described as the largest pyramid tomb 'beyond the banks of the Nile' by Sir John Betjeman, (1906-84). It’s difficult to know if this is true, but it’s not uncommon for pyramid structures to be used as burial markers in cultures around the world.

The Pyramid sits on the highest point in the ancient Kilbride cemetery, alongside ruins of a medieval church. The outer cladding of pyramid is granite, and it reaches a height of about 30 feet, allowing it to be seen from up to two miles away.

The most interesting aspect of this structure is that it is the final earthly resting place of 18 members of the Howard family. Ralph Howard, Viscount of Wicklow, commissioned the pyramid in 1785 as a mausoleum for his loved ones. During this period in time, artistic imitations of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian styles were a sign of an educated, well-travelled and fashionable member of society.

Although the mausoleum is sealed now, access to the inside was through a little door in the north wall. Passing down a narrow 8 feet long walkway brings you to a chamber which is roughly 10 feet square, with an impressive, curved brick ceiling. Inside the chamber, on each side are niches of coffins - three rows of three, space for nine coffins in total.


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