The Papal Cross is a large simple white cross designed by the Irish firm Scott, Tallon and Walker Associates, at a cost of £50,000. It stands at 116 feet, weighs 31 tonnes and is made of steel girders. It was erected on the 14th September, 1979, for the visit of the late Pope John Paul II. The Papal visit took place on the 29th September 1979 (Catholic feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross) and it was the first time a reigning Pope had ever visited Ireland.
At the time of the visit, Ireland was viewed as a devout catholic country and it is estimated that over one million people attended the first papal mass in Ireland. The Pope's visit cost the Irish government in excess of £2.5 million. In April 2005, a mass was held at the cross to mark the passing of John Paul II.
Charles Haughey, former Taoiseach of Ireland, believed that the site of the Papal Cross had the potential to become an attraction in it's own right. He wrote to Sylvie Barrett, the Minister of State, saying that “effort should be made to make it attractive, even inspirational. I think we should go for an abundance of trees of all kinds and create a pleasant sylvan setting in which visitors coming to see the cross can relax.”
The cross, with it's stunning vistas towards the mountains and the city, is now a tourist attraction and is visited by bus tours and locals daily.