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TEMPLEUSQUE, CO. CORK


Figure 1: Templeusque Graveyard, Cork, April 2020.

The modern-day Parish of Glanmire is a union of the ancient parishes of Templeusque, Rathcooney, Dunbullogue. Kilcully and Templemichael.  According to historian James Coleman, Templeusque Graveyard stands on a hill which gradually rises from the north bank of the River Lee, lying about seven miles north-west of Dunkettle, and ‘is the most remote, isolated, and lonely of them all.’[1]  Templeusque, Teampall Loiscthe, may mean Water Church, but as the site is both high and dry so this etymology seems implausible.  Another derivation has been suggested: Burnt (Loiscthe) Church (Teampall) and this translation is probably more likely.  There is no visible trace of this ancient church although the first edition Ordnance Survey (c.1841) map denotes the church in ruins.  The site was surveyed in 1983 and the field archaeologists suggested the rise in the centre of the graveyard indicates where the church probably stood.


 

Figure 2: First edition Ordnance Survey Map.

The church of Templeusque was a gift by the Sarsfield family and in 1291 it was valued at 7 marks for Pope Nicholas IV’s papal taxation.  It is believed that the ancient leper hospital of Wynchedon may well have been located at the old church and graveyard.  John de Wynchedon’s will was executed in 1306 and is one of the oldest Anglo-Irish testaments extant.  In the document, he left various bequests to the lepers of Cork including at ‘Glenamir’ (Glanmire).  Historians William Maziere Brady and Evelyn Bolster concluded that Glenamir was later called Templeusque.  Indeed, Brady’s account of the Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross notes that Bishop Downes visited the area in 1700 and on 1 October observed that the church at Templeusque was built with stone and clay and a significant part of the outer wall was in a ruinous state.


The graveyard at Templeusque contains a Bullaun Stone and a strange sepulchral emblem on the Clifford tombstone.  According to Sean O'Neill, Templeusque Graveyard was the scene of a strange incident some time ago.  The people of the area noticed holes in the graveyard and tracks leading to a nearby pond but there had been no sightings of who or what had disturbed the ground.  One morning three local men, the Clifford brothers, went to the graveyard with scythes to cut the long grass and nettles.  As they approached, they saw a snake or eel with his head stuck down a grave.  One of the brothers sliced the animal in half, but to his dismay, it followed him over the wall.  Luckily, planting drills were in the field, slowing the snake, which eventually died from blood loss.[2] 



Figure 3: Eel of Templeusque, Duchas.ie.

There are two purported outcomes to the story: the brothers went to bed and none of them woke the next morning, or the brother who decapitated the animal got such a fright he immediately went to bed and did not reawaken.  The latter has some antiquity as according to The Daily Colonist, 28 October 1887, a tombstone bearing the name of ‘Thomas Clifford, who departed This life the 20th April, 1787, Aged 27 years’ is located in the graveyard.  The tombstone is known locally as the eel-stone and once could be distinguished by a scythe carved on the right-hand side and an eel on the left-hand corner which was damaged subsequently.  Reputedly, the damage to the gravestone was inflicted by a grieving man armed with a gun; he had remained in the graveyard after the burial of his relative, ‘dreading the nocturnal visits of the doctors’.[3] When the body snatchers arrived, he took aim but as the night was very dark, he missed his prey; the bullet struck Thomas Clifford’s headstone instead, damaging the corner on which the eel was carved. 

The sub-rectangular bullaun found in Templeusque Graveyard is cemented to a low plinth and measures 0.7m by 0.6m with a thickness of 0.2m.  The hollow has a diameter of 0.2m with a depth of 0.1m.  In general, bullauns date from multiple periods and served many purposes; they are usually bowl-shaped, some forming naturally, but the great majority are artificial.[4] The stones are usually associated with ecclesiastical enclosures, penitential stations, holy wells and burial grounds and sometimes with ring forts.   Much speculation surrounds the purpose of the stone bowls; folklore suggests that the water in the hollow was supposed to cure skin diseases, particularly warts.   Another theory is the bullaun was used as a mortar for food production and was eventually replaced by the quern.   Whatever the origins of the bullaun at Templeusque it serves as a reminder of Glanmire’s past and our ancestors.



Figure 4: Bullaun stone at Templeusque.



 

[1] James Coleman, ‘Templeusque Churchyard, Ireland Journal of the Association for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead in Ireland, vol. vii, no. 2 of part 1 (1907) p. 265.

[2] NFCS 389:423-4; Seán O’Neill, Templeusque, County Cork.  Collector: Simon Morgan, Glanmire (Lower) National School, County Cork, n.d. Teacher: D. Beckett.

[3] The Daily Colonist, 28 October 1887.

[4] Liam Price, ‘Rock-Basins, or 'Bullauns', at Glendalough and Elsewhere, JRSAI, vol. 89, no. 2 (1959), p. 172.



 

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