Templemichael Church is a charming ‘Board of First Fruits’ Protestant church built in 1823 on the site of an earlier ruined church. It stands in the shadow of the remains of a 12th century castle and also a stone’s throw from Molana Abbey. The church is situated on a picturesque little promontory jutting into the confluence of the Glendine River and the Blackwater. The church was in use until the mid 20th century but has fallen into an acute state of disrepair with the graveyard actually bursting through the surrounding wall. Unusually enough for such a relatively new structure, Templemichael Church has been the scene of a large number of reported paranormal sightings and folktales. The story goes that during the famine a young peasant woman brought her sick child to the house at Ballynatray to seek help but was turned away. As she was turned away she stepped backwards down the thirteen steps at the entrance of the house and cursed a generation of the Holroyd-Smyth family with each step. If you spot any of the Holroyd-Smyth tombstones you will notice that a lot of the family died on the 13th of the month, the last Halroyd-Smyth to own Ballynatray House died in a hunting accident on September 13th, 1969. There have also been reported sightings of ghost monks, strange large black dogs, and even ropes that appeared across the main road at Templemichael, causing drivers/cyclists to panic but then disappearing. Other local lore says that horses used to stop at the entrance to Balynatray House, unwilling initially to go any further, but then suddenly bolting away from the gate at dangerous speeds.
Templemichael church does certainly have a haunting quality, even though I was unaware of these stories when I visited. I’d fully recommend walking the little grass path past the church down to a stunning clearing right beside the confluence of the two rivers, a lovely place to stop for a rest.
GPS: 51.99277, -7.88351