Do the knight thing

On the western side of Ireland’s Hook Peninsula lies a diminutive village by the name of Templetown. The area is steeped in history for the land around here was held for many years by the Knights Templar after their return from the Crusades. When King Philip IV of France found himself deeply in debt to the Templars, he spearheaded the arrest, incarceration and torture of knights all over France, seizing the Templar assets for himself. The attacks took place at dawn, Friday 13th, 1307 and just over a month later Pope Clement V put out the call to monarchs across the rest of Europe to do the same.

The Templars in Ireland were rounded up on the 10th of January 1308 and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, charged with the same crimes as their European counterparts. No evidence of wrongdoing could be produced and the knights denied all charges. In France, torture led to many knights confessing to ‘crimes’ but in Ireland the knights were given penance, absolved and sent to monasteries to repent their sins. Despite never being proven guilty of anything, they were dispossessed of all possessions and lands, which the Pope then granted to their rivals, the Hospitallers.

I went looking for traces of the legendary knights on a recent visit to the Hook Peninsula on the south coast of Ireland. The cannily named Templars Inn helped me find what I was looking for – it is located right across the road from the Templar ruins.

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The ruins in Templetown are a muddle of different eras, medieval remains probably constructed by the Hospitallers, an impressive castellated tower that was probably added on later to fend off attackers and the shell of a 19th century church.

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 Wander through the gravestones that are scattered around the ruins and you might spot a trace of the Knights Templar who once called this place home. On one of the gravestones there is a sword carved down the length of the stone and at its base, weather worn but still discernible, the figure of a little lamb. The Templars were here.

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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33 Responses to Do the knight thing

  1. aj vosse says:

    Did you find your Knight in shining armour?? 😉

  2. Sas says:

    Have you ever been to Rhodes? The old town was also home to the Knights, and there are some fantastic guides there who can tell you all about another part of their history 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      I’ve never been to Rhodes, but would love any recommendations you have for tours. Sounds fascinating! 🙂

      • Sas says:

        An evening tour around the old town with one of the qualified guides is a must. It’s like stepping into another world, I can’t believe I was lucky enough to live there.

        • ailsapm says:

          Ooh, sounds idyllic, I will definitely put it on my list! Yes, how wonderful to have lived there, it looks like such a beautiful place. 🙂

  3. What a fascinating spot – one day I might get to Ireland 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh I hope you get to visit soon, it’s gorgeous! In the summer it’s light for hours and hours, you can fit so much into your day it’s fantastic. 🙂

  4. Someday my husband and I plan to go to Ireland, ride bikes through the green countryside, maybe stay on a sheep farm… But this ancient Knights vs Pope story could inspire an excellent post-colonial type novel, or a fascinating satire! What a treasure of creative research there!

    • ailsapm says:

      Ooh, biking through the countryside would be gorgeous (provided the weather co-operates!) and yes, Laura, I could definitely see the Templar ruins as the setting for a novel! 🙂

  5. Templar knights appear in so much of fiction/history. Enjoyed the pictures of places I’ve read about. That little lamb always seems to be in that same pose when the knights are involved.
    Cool place – thanks for taking us along

  6. Interesting post and photos.

  7. the lamb made my heart sink…

  8. Steve Lakey says:

    Fascinating to have the history behind the locations. Good photos, too.

  9. Very interesting post! I love history!

  10. I made my first visit to Ireland earlier this year, but not to this part. Found this really interesting!

    • ailsapm says:

      What part did you visit? There are so many nooks and crannies it’s impossible to get to them all. xxx

      • I was in the south-west. Flew into Shannon Airport and spent a few days in Limerick before doing a big road trip along the coastline of the south west, ending in Cork. I haven’t blogged about it yet – but I will be soon! Keep an eye out for my posts!

  11. What an awesome trip! I love researching local lore and searching for myself. And Ireland…how could you not?

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks Claudia, glad you enjoyed it. I too love finding out about local lore. Legend and mythology tells you so much about a community. 🙂

  12. The Templars have left such fascinating traces across the earth. We have a place called Temple just down the road, it’s quite close to Roslin Chapel which was a big Templar site. Scotland didn’t persecute the Templars, and in fact gave them refuge, so all sorts of interesting characters arrived and stayed 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      I’ve read about Temple, Seonaid, and Roslin Chapel and would love to visit sometime, it sounds amazing. I had no idea Scotland gave refuge to the Templars, good on ya, Scotland, what a great legacy. I am in love with your photos of the stones on the Isle of Lewis, makes me want to go island hopping right now! 🙂

  13. Lovely and haunting.

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