The Knights Hospitallers were brought to Ireland by Strongbow in 1174. There may have been an earlier house in the South-east. The Priory of Ireland was established at Kilmainham (now the Royal Hospital/Irish Museum of Modern Art) sometime after that date where the Order held about 600 acres of land comprising much of what is now the Phoenix Park. The Order had up to 23 Preceptories, 21 were in Leinster and Munster, where the Order was mainly established with lands in 129 different locations and an extensive network of hospitals and hostels. By 1558 the Order had been suppressed (along with all other religious orders in Ireland) at the Reformation.
The Order’s activities ceased in Ireland at the time of Reformation but were re-established in 1934 under the title Irish Association of the Order of Malta, or Order of Malta Ireland. Just four years later, in Galway in 1938, the Irish Association established as its principal charitable activity the first Order of Malta Ambulance Corps providing first aid, ambulance and casualty services to the local community.