Sunday, 31 March 2013

History of Irish Butlers- various Butler Branches

The Various Butler Branches


Over the centuries a number of junior titles were granted to various younger sons of the Chief Butlers and the Earls of Ormond, and even to their illegitimate children, and these aristocratic lines were granted large areas of land throughout southern Ireland and intermarried with the senior Ormond line. These Butler families helped the Earl protect and retain his vast holdings against attacks from indigenous Irish clans who resented the loss of their lands. Some of the Butlers formed alliances with some of the more prominent Irish clan leaders such as the Kavanaghs, fitzPatricks, and O’Briens through marriage with their daughters.

The most prominent junior Butler lines were:
the Viscounts Mountgarrett from Richard, the second son of Piers the 8th Earl of Ormond- later, this line also held the title Earl of Kilkenny for a brief time. (The current Viscount Mountgarrett looks likely to inherit the vacant Earldom of Ormonde.);
the Barons of Dunboyne from Thomas, the third son of Theobald the 4th Chief Butler, (and brother of Edmund, the 6th Chief Butler and Earl of Karrick, whose son James became the 1st Earl of Ormond);
the Viscounts Ikerrin (including Butlers of Callan), who later became the Earls of Carrick, from John the second son of Edmund 6th Chief Butler and Earl of Karrick, (and brother of the 1st Earl of Ormond);
the Barons of Cahir who later held the title of Earl of Glengall, from James “Galda”, the illegitimate son of the 3rd Earl of Ormond;
the Viscounts Galmoye from Edward son of Piers of Duiske the illegitimate son of Thomas 10th Earl of Ormond.
There are also various other titles that are not quite as prominent in the family heritage.

The titles of Mountgarrett, Dunboyne and Carrick continue today- the other titles have either expired, or are unclaimed, or extinct.

There were many non-titled but closely related Butler lines that were prominent, and referred to by Lord Dunboyne in his extensive Butler genealogical research viz.
the Butlers of Neigham co. Kilkenny descended from Edmund illegitimate elder brother of Piers 8th Earl of Ormond (born pre marriage, to James Butler & Sabhn Kavanagh);
Butlers of Paulstown/Polestown co. Kilkenny also descended from Richard of Knocktopher 2nd son of 3rd Earl of Ormond.
Butlers of Callan co. Kilkenny descended from Pierce of Lismalin (as were the Viscounts Ikerrin/ Earls of Carrick), descendant of Edmund 6th Chief Butler;
Butlers of Boytonrath/Grallagh/Derrycloney/Garranlea/Grange, co.Tipperary, and Butlers of Co. Clare, all descendants of 9th and 10th Lords Dunboyne;
Butlers of Cloughgrennan/Ballintemple/Garryhundon, co.Carlow descended from Thomas (Baronet), illegitimate son of Edmond, second son of 9th Earl of Ormond;
Butlers of Grantstown/Kilmoyler/Bansha, co.Tipperary from Pierce, youngest son of 9th Earl of Ormond;
Butlers of Nodstown (Ardmayle) co. Tipperary, from Walter, fourth son of 9th Earl of Ormond;
Butler descendants of Thomas Prior of Kilmainham, base son of 3rd Earl of Ormond;
Butlers of Ballyraggett co. Kilkenny, descendants of Viscount Mountgarrett;
Butlers of Carlow and Butlers of Wexford, including the Kayer/Munphin branch,  descendants of Viscount Mountgarrett;
plus many other lines.

The Ormond line and these junior lines intermarried with each other, and with many other titled and gentry families in Ireland and England.

The Viscounts Mountgarrett held vast lands in Counties Wexford, Carlow, Queens, Nth Kilkenny and Nth Tipperary- the 1st Viscount (created in 1550) was appointed Governor of Wexford in 1538.
Richard, 1st Viscount Mountgarrett, was the second son of Piers 8th Earl of Ormond, and brother to James 9th Earl of Ormond. Richard inherited the Castle of Ballyraggett in North Kilkenny from his mother, and owned 20,000 acres in northern Kilkenny.
The Mountgarrett Butlers lived in Ballyraggett Lodge, a “fine mansion”. The 1st Viscount Mountgarrett’s mother, Margaret Fitzgerald, Countess of Ormond, (daughter of the Earl of Kildare, and married to the 8th Earl of Ormond) favoured Ballyraggett Castle as her favourite residence. [1] They also held considerable property in County Wexford.

The Barons of Dunboyne held lands in Counties Meath, Tipperary, and then Clare (after the plantation).

The Viscounts Ikerrin/Earls of Carrick held lands in County Kilkenny, in particular Lismalin, Callan and eventually at Mt. Juliet (Ballylinch Castle).

The Barons of Cahir were based in County Tipperary at their magnificent castle, Cahir Castle. [2]

Cahir Castle Co Tipperary

Untitled but related Butlers also held lands in the above counties as well as in Wicklow, Waterford, Cork, Kildare, Cavan and Dublin, and counties in the province of Connaught (after the plantation). And of course, the Ormonds possessed vast areas of land, as discussed.

The origins of the Cahir Line:

The Cahir line descended from James “Galda”, illegitimate son of James 3rd Earl of Ormonde, and the following story about the origin of this line was written in 1722 and is a very entertaining tale. How much of it is true, and how much fiction is debatable:

History of the Butlers written in 1722 by Shane O'Cahane

The story of James "Galda's" conception:

To return to James, earl of Gowran [ and the fair Earl's father; he had the earl of Desmond's daughter (his own near-allied relative) to wife, overhead the Saxon Countess; and the manner in which he came to have her was as follows:


The girl at home had had laid to her charge overfamiliarity with a close relation; in consequence of which she was seized with anger and resentful perturbation, and sought out the earl of Ormond, her kinsman, with whom now for a length of time she had been staying.  At Carrick subsequently some trifling ailment attacked the earl, and he retired to his 'sleeping-house': the countess and the earl of Desmond's daughter following him, and a great bevy of other ladies accompanying them both.

They had been for a long space with the earl when at last the countess got up and went away, taking with her a certain number of her women; but the earl of Desmond's daughter tarried within beside her kinsman, a very large company of the women abiding with her; and in this way they indulged in mirthful dialogue and noisy chatter of words as they discoursed together. Now it was the Saxon countess's suits of English apparel that were in the room, and one of these the earl of Desmond's daughter put on herself. When the women that were with her saw that, and perceived her to be in that suit, they fell to mockery and to jeering of her.The earl [who only heard their noise] said: "fie fie on it all!" and enquired of the women the cause of their jeering and manner of going on. The young woman from Desmond answered him and said: "at me it is that the women aim all this ridicule, because they see on me this foreign raiment. And now, my lord, if by virtue of these English duds indeed it be that Saxon women are made pretty and are smartened up, methinks that now at any rate I too am such.  For ye the earls of Ireland (as I opine) deem that in Ireland ye find not women to suit yourselves; whereas I hold that, in the way of a countess, I myself am better than you Geraldine hag whom thou hast". Upon hearing which, the earl burst into a pleasant good-humoured laugh. No long time after was it when the earl was whole again. He had treasured up the damsel's words, and in his own mind meditated to make his won of her whensoever that should be feasible; all this through evil appetite and in defiance of his own 'friendship' [consanquinity with her]. There came a time which found the maid off her guard, with but a very few women about her; and the earl when he caught her so made the most of his opportunity, in her despite took all his desire, and thereafter at his pleasure frequented her.

So soon as the Saxon countess perceived the thing, she was angered hugely and in sad dudgeon betook herself to Waterford. At the time, she had had two children by the earl, a son and a daughter: Richard was the son's name, but what name the daughter bore we know not.

To revert to the earl of Desmond's daughter: throughout the regions in close proximity not to herself alone but to her father more especially, the fact was published openly. The story thus having reached the earl of Desmond it misliked him and, for that this deed was done, his bodily and mental senses both were all disordered; therefore of the best of his people he enquired what he should do in the matter. As with one man's voice all said that forthwith, and before the act should be recognised as his, it were just to accuse the earl of Ormond and to bring him to book.

So was it done, and the earl of Ormond's answer to those the earl of Desmond's missive was favourable. He said that in regard to that which he had done he would execute whatever should be the earl of Desmond's will; and between them a trysting day was set for Aylenamearogue over the bank of green-flowing Suir, and within brief space of time.

The two earls, as of Desmond and of Ormond, met in that appointed place, and there they were: one on either bank of the Suir. To the earl of Desmond he of Ormond sent word, telling him to cross over to that side of the Suir on which he was. Now Aylenamearogue is a little ways westwards from the abbey of Innishlounacht, and close on the Suir. The earl of Desmond with his folk proceeded to join the earl of Ormond; and he had ridden at a walk but so far as it needed to hit the ford, when his horse being come to it bent hi head to drink water therefrom. But as he drank the bridle dropped out over his ears and got under his feet whereby the horse very violently was thrown and the earl fell into the ford. Then the impetuous current swept him away under the deep of the abyss and the river's turbulence, in which wise was drowned the earl of Desmond, who was John.

The Saxon countess's affairs are they, which now for another while we relate.

On the very day in which the earl of Desmond was drowned, that daughter of his had put down poison to make ready for her, and the time being come, this is how she managed: she took a bottle of choicest wine of Zante, and into it she dropped that poison.  Next: a domestic chaplain that she had, who was from Munster, to whom she was dear and who was in her confidence, him with the bottle she dismissed to Waterford to seek out the Saxon countess.  Also she procured the earl's signet, which as a token from him to the countess she gave to the priest, and told him (for fear lest otherwise she might not accept the wine from him) to exhibit the same to her.


The priest goes his way and being in the countess's presence, spoke according as he had been told:  he declared that he had a good wine of Zante which from Youghal newly was come to the earl, but which he was loath to drink without sending her a share of it.  The priest added that the earl thought her displeasure at him to have endured more than long enough, and that after a very short interval, he would come to fetch her. These words ended, he filled to the countess a measure of the wine and put it into her hand; she drank a draught of it and passed it on to her daughter, who took the same.  The boy-child, Richard, was sporting and frolicking through the house; he came to the priest and craved of him a drink of the wine.  The priest gave the child a box of his palm, said that for him it was not good to have any such wine, nor let a single drop go his way. Then the priest bade the countess farewell, and neither stayed nor tarried in the city, but struck out straight before him for the ferryboat.  No more than half way across the river had he won out, when he heard the city bells a-ringing.  He went on across the river, and again he halted on the landing shore until other folk from the city came by him at that spot.  He asked for news, and what it might be that caused that great bell-pealing that he heard.  "The Saxon countess and her daughter that, even now are dead."
When the priest had confirmation of those tidings he went on again, and stayed not until he got to Carrick, to his lady that was the earl of Desmond's daughter. From first to last he told her his tale: how that the countess and her daughter were dead; and she esteemed it right pleasant and joyful to hear those tidings to which she listened.

We now must revert for a little to the earl of Desmond, i.e., to the sequel of his death.  After his drowning in the Suir, the earl of Ormond in silence sought his own hold and fair town: the Carrick.  To all his people he issued a gathering-call and a summons, and proclaimed that under penalty of their lives, every man of them, deepest secrecy must for that night be kept as touching the earl of Desmond's death, nor (for that night especially must the same be suffered to reach his daughter). The earl now being come to the town, not long had he rested when the earl of Desmond's daughter came to look for him; she spoke to him and what she said was: "were I to have a fee for it, I would tell thee some news." "Thou shalt have it" quoth he.  "Well then," she went on, "the Saxon countess and her daughter are no more."  Upon the earl's hearing this, very great melancholy filled him and he said: "young woman, if I also tell thee some news, wilt thou give me another fee?"  She said: "thou shalt have it indeed."  "Well then," he answered, "to-day thy father the earl of Desmond, was drowned in the Suir." When she heard that, she made great outcry of grief and a weary weeping, so that her breast and bosom all were wet; and for long after that she was afflicted with heavy sickness and dejection of spirit.  Now this daughter of the earl of Desmond it was that to the earl of Ormond bore James gallda; of which James gallda's race are the Butlers of Cahir upon the Suir.  The earl put her from him, and afterwards Mac Thomas had her.”




[1] Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1830
[2] For a great story on the circumstances of James “Galda’s”  birth (Cahir line) read the 1722 story written by Shane O’Cahane