Butler conference visit Fethard - the best walled town in Ireland

Participants in the 'Butler Trail' visit to Fethard photographed in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church of Ireland with guide Terry Cunningham.
An important conference on the Butler Family was held in Cahir over last weekend, October 11-13, and the delegates visited Fethard on Sunday to hear of Fethard’s connections with the Butler family.

An important conference on the Butler Family was held in Cahir over last weekend, October 11-13, and the delegates visited Fethard on Sunday to hear of Fethard’s connections with the Butler family.

The Butlers get their name from the first of the family, one Theobald Walter, who came to Ireland in the 1170s with the Anglo-Norman invasion.

The branch of the Butler family in the Fethard area were the ‘Dunboyne Butlers’, as a young Butler squire had married into the ‘le Petit’ family, who were lords of Dunboyne in County Meath and therefore he inherited that title.

Many Castles in the Fethard Area

The Dunboyne Butlers had their chief seat in Tipperary at Kiltinan Castle, but other branches lived in Knockelly Castle, Cramp’s Castle and other locations in the area. The Butlers were at first a Tipperary family, but in 1428, James, the Fourth Earl of Ormond (The White Earl) signed the ‘statutes of Fethard’ wherein he annexed County Kilkenny and added it to his Tipperary Palatinate. It is not certain yet where in Fethard these famous statutes were signed.

In many ways the most famous of the Dunboyne Butlers was John Butler who was born in Grangebeg in 1730.

John became Catholic Bishop of Cork in 1763, but following the deaths of all his brothers and nephew he was then in line to become Lord Dunboyne himself at the age of 56 in 1786. But to become Lord Dunboyne he had to become a Protestant and so began a famous story. He died in 1800 and he was buried sometime later with his infant daughter by the alter rails in the Augustinian Abbey in Fethard.

It is now planned that Fethard will join the Butler Trail, with Carrick, Clonmel and Cahir, and hopefully will steer more visitors to town.