The Templars were founded around 1119 by Hugh de Payens for the protection of pilgrims to the Holy Land. Initially guided by the Rule of St. Augustine they later adopted Cistercian practices under the influence of St. Bernard. After securin g ecclesiastical approval at the Council of Troyes (1129), the order spread rapidly and increased in wealth, prestige, and influence.
The earliest reference to the Templars in Ireland occurs about 1180 when Matthew the Templar witnessed a deed whereby Henry II granted them the vill of Clontarf as their principal Irish foundation or preceptory. Five other preceptories were established by the end of the twelfth century as well as nine smaller houses (Camerae). Though more military than monastic in appearance, these preceptories functioned as religious houses in which the Divine Office was celebrated, novices were recruited and trained, and to which older members retired. Like the Hospitalers, the Templars recruited almost exclusively from the Anglo-Norman community and sided with the colony in its struggles against the native Irish population.
As part of the general campaign against the order, fifteen Irish Templars were tried in St. Patrick’s cathedral, Dublin in 1310. In 1311, three preceptories were assigned to accommodate the Irish Knights for the rest of their lives while the rest passed to the Knights Hospitaler after 1312