Knights Templar: Ireland

Let’s take Irish history back to the beginning of the 1100’s.  For it was at that time, Ireland was made up of around eighty small kingdoms, and ruled by the Gaels.  These Gaels were of Norse and Irish blood, which reflected Scandinavian blood lines within Irish society.

In the 1160’s life in Ireland was to change, with the arrival of an Anglo-Norman military force, taking up occupation, this threatened Ireland’s way of life, leading to many a dispute.

Diarmit, the King of Leinster was forced into exile in 1166, and turned to King Henry II for support.  Ireland had to wait three years, before England would land a military force on Irish soil.  So, it was in 1169, Richard de Clare landed at Bannow Bay, Wexford with a 600 strong Anglo-Norman army.  The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, took place between 1169-1171; short and effective.

After the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, King Henry II of England, presented the Templars with properties for their Order, one of which was at Clontarf Castle, County Dublin.

The first evidence of the Templar Order in Ireland, is the witnessing of an “Irish Charter” by “Mathew the Templar” in 1177.  Yet it was to be another fifty years before the Knights Templar, would officially take up residence in Ireland, in September 1220.

Ireland was part of the Templar Province of England, having its own master, one who was an officer of the English Crown.

On Friday the 13th October 1307, King Philip IV of France had members of the Knights Templar arrested on charges of heresy.  He even went a step further, putting pressure on the Pope, to have all Templars arrested across Europe on charges of heresy.

In Ireland, some thirty to forty Templars were arrested on charges of heresy, on the 2nd February 1308 and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, before being put on trial in 1310 at St.Patrick’s Castle.  The trial was conducted by Friar Richard Balybyn, minister of the Order of Dominicans in Ireland. Along with Friar Philip de Slane (Lecturer) and Friar Hugh St. Leger.

Forty one witnesses came forth, most from other religious orders, but none could furnish any concrete proof of guilt.

However, the Order of the Knights Templar were disbanded across Europe in 1312.  Their lands and possessions passed to the Order of the Hospitallers.

Around 1280, Irish resistance to the Anglo-Norman invaders grew, so much so, that the Scots stepped into help.  Edward Bruce the brother of King Robert of Scotland, led his army against English power houses in Ireland of 1315-1318.  Many an Irish Lord, sided with the Scots, to rid Ireland of the Anglo-Norman’s which led to the English frontier post at Athlone being destroyed.

The English Crown, struggled to retain its control over Ireland, after the Scots intervention.  By 1400 many a fortress had either been destroyed or was in the hands of Anglo-Irish Lords.

Some Templar Historical Builds:

Baldungan (County Dublin, South of Skerries) – Some church ruins with what seems to have been a ten-sided tower are believed to be the remnants of a Templar church.

Carrigogunnell Castle (County Limerick, near Clarina) – Parts are reputed to have been built by the order,

Clontarf Castle (County Dublin) – Belonged to the Knights Templar but the present castle has no connections left bar the location,

Dungeel (County Kerry, near Killorglin) – Ruins of a church and a castle reputed (and disputed) to have belonged to the Templars,

Graney (County Kildare, near Castledermot) – Reputed Templar-related ruins near the ruins of the Augustinian nunnery,

Kilberry (County Kildare) – A possible preceptory of the Knights Templar lies in ruins near the River Barrow,

Roosky (County Louth) – Part of the “priory” may have belonged to the Templars,

Strand (County Limerick) – Temple Strand has a church of almost certain Templar origin.

Templehouse Lake (County Sligo, near Ballymote) – Ruins of a house belonging to the Templars (which gave the name to the lake).