Templeport – mysterious land of saints and sinners

Nestled in the heart of Cavan’s Marble Arch Global Geopark, Templeport offers visitors a heady mix of stunning natural beauty and a kaleidoscopic history.

What have Christian Saints, WWII, sacrificial druids, the Dalai Lama, and the Titanic all got in common? The answer is a remarkable townland in County Cavan by the name of Templeport.

Nestled in the heart of Cavan’s Marble Arch Global Geopark, Templeport offers visitors a heady mix of stunning natural beauty and a kaleidoscopic history. Its story is truly one of saints and sinners; and great holy men and terrible dictators have all left their mark on this landscape over the centuries.

Located just 30 minutes’ drive from both Cavan Town and Enniskillen, this picturesque townland is teeming with heritage sites; indeed, it seems as though every nook and cranny hides some fascinating historical titbit. Luckily, the area is home to several trained Geopark guides – warm, friendly locals who are happy to share their knowledge.

One of the most intriguing places in the country, let alone Templeport, is St Mogue’s Island, which lies amid the dark and storied waters of Templeport Lake.

The birth place of noted early Irish Saint, Aidan (also known as Mogue); legend has it there is magic in the ground here, which protects against fire and drowning. Famously, local woman Mary McGovern survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, a miracle she attributed to carrying soil from this hallowed ground on her person.

On St Patrick’s Night, March 1943 as Hitler and Stalin’s armies fought for control of the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, a little piece of World War Two found its way to Templeport.

As locals attended a dance nearby, an RAF Beaufighter, lost, out of fuel, and abandoned by its crew, crashed into Templeport Lake, just off St Mogue’s Island. For shell-shocked locals, the fact that the plane dodged the nearby village of Bawnboy was further proof of the divine powers of this extraordinary island. Boat tours are available.

Another site of note in Templeport is the beautifully-preserved Kilnavart megalithic tomb, a late Bronze Age structure wreathed in the protective embrace of a ring of trees. Two standing stones nearby are thought to be the remains of a larger stone circle. The beauty of this ancient place belies its gruesome past, and historians believe this was a site of pagan human sacrifice and the worship of the Sun God, Crom Cruach.

At the other, more peaceful, end of the spiritual scale, Templeport is today home to a Tibetan Buddhist Centre, Jampa Ling. This might seem an incongruous pairing, but after even a short time in Templeport, nothing surprises. Situated in the eighteenth century Owendoon House, and blessed by the Dalai Lama himself, Jampa Ling is the ideal place for a relaxing retreat for people of all faiths and none, or even for a delightful lunch in a beautiful countryside setting.

Among the other sites of note in Templeport include the imposing 19th century Bawnboy Workhouse, the rare and austere Holy Trinity Barn Church, and the Bawn, a 17th century Ulster Plantation fort from which the nearby town takes its name.

To learn more about this surprising and charming West Cavan townland, or to book a tour guide, visit www.templeport.ie or call +353 (0)87 4518859.

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