Kilwirra Church

Medieval Church

St Mary's Church at Templetown is situated on a small knoll surrounded by farmland, with the Cooley Mountains providing a gorgeous backdrop. The site is associated with the Knights Templar founded in 1118 by Hugh de Payens. Their main purpose was to provide protection to the many pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem. The Knights Templar probably arrived in Ireland after the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. The Order was endorsed by the Catholic Church and as a charity they received many gifts. They became a very wealthy organisation and are credited with having started an early form of banking. After the loss of Christian control in the Holy Land the Order was undermined and by 1314 the Order was dissolved.

We can still see evidence of the Templars in Ireland in the names of many townlands, such as "Templetown" in both Louth and Wexford. There is also a possible connection in Temple Bar, Dublin. Kilwirra is derived from Cill Mhuirre-Church of Mary. The nave and chancel of this 15th/16thcentury church is approximately 15.5 metres in length by 5.5 metres wide. It was built from roughly coursed limestone boulders. There is a piscina in the SE corner of the church. Nearby is a holy well.

Situated: Heading east on the R175 take the right turn sign-posted Templetown. After 1.6 K turn right signed Templetown. Take the next right after the holy well.

Discovery Map 36: J 2100 0568. Last visit July 2013.

Longitude: 6° 9' 19" W

Latitude: 53° 59' 10" N

Google Map

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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