Ireland remains one of the most prominent Catholic strongholds of Europe. During the Middle Ages, the island was home to many scholars and mystics, creating a distinct Irish “brand” of monasticism: learned, devout and contemplative. Ireland largely stayed out of the way when in the late 11th century main European powers launched what turned out to be a two-century long campaign to bring Palestine under Christian control. The Order of the Knights Templar came to Ireland as a foreign power in the second half of the 12th century, among other Anglo-Norman, Welsh, Scottish and French invaders. Over time, the Knights Templar in Ireland began to operate very similarly to the way they displayed their presence in England: organizing and providing support for the crusading armies, managing properties and heavily involved in financial dealings of various sorts.
A 19th century Irish historian states that “It does not appear that the Templars of Ireland were as hardly dealt with as those on the Continent; perhaps their conduct was not so flagrant” (“The Knights Templars in Ireland”, The Dublin Penny Journal, Volume 2, Number 87, March 1, 1834). Despite lesser harshness directed towards individual Irish Templars, the fate of the Order on the whole was no different in Ireland than in most of Europe. It was disbanded, and its property was given to the Knights of St John, the Templar’s bitter rival in the fight for a common goal.
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