Mount Temple, County Westmeath

Mount Temple (Irish: an Grianán) is a village in County Westmeath in Ireland, about 6.5 km northwest of Moate. The village is best noted for its golf course of the same name. It was historically called Grenan and Ballyloughloe.[2] Mount Temple and its 'sister' village, Baylin (or Baelin), form the only two in the parish of Ballyloughloe[3] (often referred to as Caulry or Mount Temple). Its postal address is Mount Temple, Moate, County Westmeath, Ireland.

Mount Temple

An Ghrianán
The Village pub and restaurant
Mount Temple
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53.427997°N 7.776694°W / 53.427997; -7.776694
CountyCounty Westmeath
Dáil ÉireannLongford–Westmeath
Irish Grid ReferenceN182383

History of Mount Temple

In ancient times, the locality of Mount Temple and its Hinterland formed part of the kingdom of the Ard Rí of Uisneach at Killare. The area of South Westmeath and Longford was conquered by Niall of the Nine Hostages circa 400AD and formed the Kingdom of Teathbha (anglicized Teffia). An area roughly the present-day parish of Ballyloughloe was granted to his son, Maine and was known as the Calraighre an Chalaidh, hence the name Caulry. It was ruled by Maine’s descendants for the next 1200 years. They were the MacAmhalgaidhe (Englished as Magawley or sometimes McAuley) and were referred as the Lords of Carlee in old manuscripts. The chieftain of their clan was inaugurated on a coronation site known as Tullymagawley, in the townland of Ballymurray.

The Hanevys, Geraghtys and Flynns are clans closely associated with the Magawleys, residing in the area. The principal neighbouring clans were the Melaghlins (Moate & Farnagh), Foxes (East Moate), Dillons (Kilkenny West), the O’Dalys and O’Malones (Castledaly) and the O’Braoins (East Athlone).

Tradition records that St Patrick visited the area in the 5th century, but was given a hostile reception in Caulry. He escaped to Annagh and onto Ballykeeran, where he reputed to have placed a curse on the people of Caulry. St Ciarán has strong associations with the area, having founded a church called Iseal Chiarán in Baylin. The Baylin High Cross (circa 800AD) originates from this site. A Franciscan Abbey and a St Clare’s Nunnery were located in the townland of Monksland, but they were abandoned following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The Normans arrived in Ireland, via Wexford in 1171, and following a rapid conquest, arrived in this locality, led by the Tuites in 1180. They were responsible for the construction of a motte and bailey on top of an existing esker, the Garbh Esker that runs from the east to the village. Other Normans arrived under the Tuite’s leadership and many of those surnames remain in the area to this day, such as Nugents, Ledwiths, Daltons, Tyrrells, Pettits and Brownes. The Magawleys were never driven from the area and they regained control from the Tuites by 1362.

The Magawleys strengthened their position by building five castles, the principal one being at Ballyloughloe (adjacent the present-day Mount Temple Golf Club). Other castles were at Creeve, at Carn, at Dunegan and finally at Magheramore. All these castles are in ruins today. Dunegan Castle was occupied by the Homans up to 1825 when it was maliciously burnt down. Two Curley brothers were found guilty of the arson and subsequently hung at Dunegan. Many locals believed that the brothers were innocent; one hypothesis is that the fire started accidentally due to a nearby haystack that caught fire. Much of the walls of Dunegan castle remained in tack up until the 1940s, but Westmeath County Council decided to take a large section of it down so as the stone could be used to raise the nearby road.

The county of Westmeath was created in 1542 by dividing what was once the ancient province of Midhe (Meath) into eastern and western counties. The Barony of Clonlonan, which includes the parish of Ballyloughloe, was incorporated into Westmeath in 1600, when the Gaelic clans of Melaghlin and Magawley finally submitted to English law.

The Magawley’s control in the area finally ceased following the infamous Cromwellian campaign throughout Ireland in 1652. The last Magawley chief, Henry Magawley, his wife Margaret and mother Jane, were transplanted with many Caulry natives to Connacht in 1656. His family eventually resettled back to Kilcormac in County Offaly. Some Magawleys were fortunate to remain in the area, but many more Magawleys went on to join the Wild Geese into service of other European nations. One such descendant was Philip Magawley who served as Field Marshal in the Army of Emperor Charles IV and later was Governor of Prague in 1740. Another was Philip Francis Magawley, 3rd Count Magawley-Cerati de Calry, who died in 1835. He was appointed a Papal Ambassador of Pope Pius VIII to Napoleon in 1814. He also served as Prime Minister to Empress Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma. Christopher Henry Magawley was a Governor of Riga and a Knight of the Russian Empire.

Following the Cromwellian land confiscations, Robert Temple purchased much of the lands of the area in 1684 and established the Temples as the local gentry. His daughter, Elizabeth Temple famously rode her horse up the Norman motte and by doing so, the village became known as “Mount Temple”. Elizabeth Temple married Gustavus Handcock of Waterstown Estate, Glasson in 1725. Both are buried at St Mary’s Church, Athlone. Their descendants became the Lords and Ladies of Castlemaine, residing at Moydrum Castle, Baylin. The IRA militia burnt down their magnificent stately home in 1921. This was a reprisal attack for the burning of a number of farmhouses in Coosan by British Crown forces earlier that day.

The immediate vicinity was known as Ballyloughloe, derived from Loch Luatha, a lakelet near the Golf Club. Luatha is reputed to have been a Gaelic queen who bled to death at the lakeside. An Grianán is thought to have been an elevated area surrounding a hillfort that is still preserved today on the Golf course. In the late 1960s, an unsuccessful political campaign was undertaken to revert the name of the village to Ballyloughloe. "Today", there is often slight confusion among some to the actual name of the parish, with some locals referring to it (incorrectly) as Mount Temple, possibly owing to the fact that the local church is situated in the village. Officially the name of the parish is Ballyloughloe with the "village" of Mount Temple forming its core centre.

In 1832, a National School was opened in Mount Temple. A new National School was built in 1888 in the building that today houses our local Community Centre. The present-day National School, An Ghrianán NS was opened in 1964.

The local GAA club, Caulry, was founded in 1928 by Fr Francis Skelly in an effort to bring all sections of the community together in one unified organization. The club retains the ancient territorial name of the Magawleys. Caulry GAA, has a rich and proud history of representing the locality in Gaelic Football, Comogie and Scór. The local soccer club, Temple Villa, was founded in 1973, whilst the Mount Temple Golf Club was established in 1991. These organisations contribute tremendously to the sporting and social character of this locality and of South Westmeath generally.

Corpus Christi Church

The present-day Roman Catholic Church of Mount Temple was built in 1932, on the same site of an earlier Catholic Church. Up on till the 1950s there were two churches in the village: Corpus Christi, and approximately 100 meters away, the Church of Ireland ran Holy Trinity Church. The latter, which was on the site of the old cemetery, succumbed to Ireland's controversial pre-1977 property tax. The present day Corpus Christi Church is modelled in the Romanesque style of St. Teresa's Church in Avila, Spain. It was dedicated on Sunday 23 July 1933 as ‘Corpus Christi Church’ following the Eucharistic Congress held in Ireland during the previous year. Cardinal McRory blessed the church at its consecration. Pope Pius XI blessed the original plans of the church and presented Monsignor Langan, the Parish Priest, with a rich mosaic crucifix and a jewelled monstrance for use in the new church. The original marble altar rails were a gift of Count John McCormack, Archbishop Curley, and Monsignor Langan. The architects of Corpus Christi Church were T.F. McNamara & Sons, Dublin. The builder contractor was S. Phillips, Drumcondra. Corpus Christi Church is a parish church of Moate, Mount Temple and Castledaly and of Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.

Notable people


  1. "Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2007. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  2. Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)

See also

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