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Holy Cross Abbey

Holy Cross Abbey

Midlands Ireland | County Tipperary

Holy Cross Abbey is a Cistercian monastery located in the village of Holycross, about 6 km southwest of Thurles in County Tipperary. It was founded in 1169 as Benedictine Order, but in 1182 Donal Mor O'Brien brought here Cistercian monks from Monasteranenagh. The name Holy Cross comes from a relic, a fragment of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The presence of this relic in the monastery attracted thousands of pilgrims for many centuries. Only small sections of the abbey survived from the original late 12th-century foundation. What we see today is mostly its 15th-century reconstruction. The church consists of a nave, chancel, two transepts, and a cloister. The chancel is amongst the finest pieces of 15th-century architecture in Ireland, with its beautiful east window, magnificent ribbed vaulting, and fine sedilia. Another unique feature is medieval wall paintings on the west wall of the north transept, one of a few surviving in Ireland. To escape the dissolution in 1540 abbey was transformed into a secular college. Then abbey and its grounds were granted to Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond and during the following centuries, it fell into ruin. In the late 1960s, Holly Cross Abbey was restored as a Catholic parish church. In the years 1970-75, a major restoration and conservation were carried out by Archbishop Thomas Morris and the Office of Public Works. Since then Holly Cross Abbey became also a tourist attraction.

    • Freely accessible during the church operating hours
    • Guided tours (pre-booked only):
      • March-Sept: every Wednesday and Sunday at 2.30pm
    • 52.639336
    • -7.868575
  • CAR PARK :
    • Yes

Photos from Holy Cross Abbey