As we drove south from Duncannon along the coast of Hook Peninsula we stumbled upon the Templar’s Church ruin near Templetown. The ruins stand on a grassy mound raised from the road and are surrounded by an old graveyard with some interesting stones. You can reach the site by a stile by the dilapidated gates at the roadside. After your visit you can refresh yourself at the Templar Inn across the road.
The Knights Templar came to a bad end in Europe in the late 13th century. Blamed in part for the loss of Jerusalem to Islam they found themselves dispossessed of their lands and wealth and in many cases they were tortured. In Ireland members of the order were incarcerated in Dublin Castle to await trial.
Templetown received its name from the Knights Templar, a brotherhood of monastic Norman warriors who originated during the crusades. After the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, large areas of land around the Hook Peninsula were given to the order by King Henry II. Templetown was used as their headquarters.
Following the collapse of Christian control of the Holy Land in the 1290s, the Templars received a good deal of the blame for this. They were also resented for their wealth, power and arrogance. King Philip of France, who had an eye on their possessions, had members arrested on charges of heresy, idolatry and various sexual vices. Many members confessed these charges under torture and it’s head member, Jacques du Molay, was burned at the stake in 1314.
In Ireland, arrested Templars were imprisoned in Dublin Castle and tried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1310, and while there were no torture, the order was dissolved here as in Europe, and its possessions were transferred to the Hospitallers. The church itself has an unusual castellated tower which was probably built at a later stage for protection from warring Gaelic clans.
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