The Howard Mausoleum Pyramid or just “The Arklow Pyramid” to most locals is located on the perimeter of Arklow town. It sits on the shoulder of a medieval church and Kilbride Cemetery grounds inside Shelton Abbey estate. One of the few Irish pyramids, Sir John Betjeman described it as the largest pyramid tomb ‘beyond the banks of the Nile’.
How did such an unusual structure end up in a place so far from its Egyptian cousins? It was commissioned by Ralph Howard, Viscount of Wicklow in 1785. Howard wished for the 30-metre granite-coated building to serve as a mausoleum for his loved ones. A total of 18 those such loved ones still lay inside to this day. Before it was sealed, the inner workings of the pyramid were accessed via a small door in the north wall. This door leads to a narrow 8-foot-long pathway. Then it’s into a 10 feet by 10 feet square chamber. Three rows of three coffins line the chamber suggesting that the Viscount’s 18-strong family were required to ‘double-up’.
Often you need to do a bit of searching for historical gems and the Howard Mausoleum Pyramid is no different. You won’t find a coffee shop or souvenir stand outside, in fact, you won’t even find a car park. It’s roughly 1hr 10 minutes from Dublin City Centre via exit 20 on the M11. From there it’s a 2.4km drive along the R772 until you reach what will seem like a dead-end road. It’s definitely worth the trip to experience such a unique piece of Irish hidden heritage.
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