Were there any Knights Templar in Ireland? Yes is the answer. More than likely, they came over with the armies of Henry II during the twelfth century but what role they did perform in that country?
Ireland first say Knights Templar when they arrived with the invading Anglo-Norman armies. The Templars were closely aligned to the Norman and then Plantagenet rulers of England. They were bankers and advisers to the English kings. One Templar master was even present when King John was forced to sign Magna Carta.
So not a surprise then that they were shoulder to shoulder with the Anglo-Normans as they made their unwelcome entry into Ireland followed by a very long stay.
Ireland – old people’s home for the Knights Templar
It seems Ireland was something of an old people’s home for the Order. Knights no longer fit to battle in the Holy Land retired there to manage Templar estates. There is evidence of Templar activity from 1220 onwards but as mentioned above, it’s widely assumed they had been in Ireland for fifty years by then.
When the Order was suppressed and leading Templars were tortured and executed, some ageing knights were taken to Dublin Castle and imprisoned. I don’t know if they were tortured as those in France were but they were put on trial in the city cathedral. Their inquisitors were three Dominicans and two Franciscans.
In December 2019, I paid a visit to Dublin Castle, which above ground is a 17th century administrative building put up for the British viceroy and his family – when the whole of Ireland was under British rule. Go down some steps however, and you find the medieval castle constructed after the Normans first arrived. As my photos below show.
Accusations of Templar heresy at Clontarf
One of the charges was that at their preceptory in Clontarf, a senior Templar had refused to look at the host when it was raised by the priest during the sacrament. Other charges just repeated the usual stuff about urinating on the crucifix and sodomising each other.
There is one book on the subject I know of – The Knights Templar and Ireland by Michael Carroll – which sheds more light on the subject. Basically, the Templars were part of the Plantagenet subduing of Ireland. But they would eventually share the fate of all their brothers across Europe.