Architecture: Temple

The Temple
This small ruined building is found about 200 yards from Emo Court.
Turn right out of the car park, and follow the road for about 150 yards. There is a modern house on the left; opposite, there is an entrance into the woods, and the Temple is about 50 yards down this path on the left.

The Temple is also called the belvedere (for example, by Father Browne, who also took photos of the building) and the gazebo. The architectural definition of ‘belvedere’ is “a raised turret or lantern on the top of a house, or a summer-house erected on an eminence, commanding a fine view”. (Oxford English Dictionary, 2 ed.1989, vol.VI, p.411) The dictionary definition of ‘gazebo’ is identical, so it was evidently important that a beautiful view or some interesting scenery should be seen from the building. A small building such as the Temple at Emo could be used in the summer for a destination which would provide cool shade at the end of a pleasant walk and where tea or a picnic might be taken. Formerly, it would have been possible to access the Temple by walking close to the lake.


The Temple at Emo Court has a triumphal arch-style base, surmounted by an octagonal gazebo possibly topped by a domed roof. At one time, it had two storeys, with perhaps a service room on one side and a staircase on the other side mounting to a room above. There are niches and also two deep arches on the outside of the lower level. Currently, the roof has disappeared, and also the internal flooring; much of the external walls is hidden by ivy. (For a detailed description of the Temple, see The Follies and Garden Buildings of Ireland by James Howley, 1993, Yale University Press)

It has been suggested (in the Irish Georgian Society Newsletter Spring 1986 pp 1 – 3) that the Temple dates from the third quarter of the 18 century, and it certainly predates Gandon’s Emo Court. It is possible that it was constructed at the time of the earlier house, Dawson’s Court, of which nothing remains.