The Butler-Charteris commemorative weekend – marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Butler Charteris, the last of the Cahir Castle Butlers – was held in Cahir on Saturday September 3 and Sunday September 4.
Organised by local academic Dr David J. Butler of UCC and UL, the two-day event was graced with the presence of the senior surviving relatives of Colonel Charteris, namely, his sole surviving grand-niece, 87-year old Mrs Olwyn Wake (nee Wynne-Finch), the widow of his last surviving grand-nephew, Mrs Rosie Wynne-Finch, and Mr William Wake, a great-grand nephew of The Colonel.
The weekend commenced on the Saturday morning, with the opening of an extensive 150-item photographic exhibition in The Great Hall of Cahir Castle, with various thematic panels detailing The Colonel’s ancestry; his immediate family; his estate: its landscape and staff; his home: Cahir Park House and its grounds; hunting excursions; patronage of sporting clubs and societies; final years; obituaries; the auction of the estate; and the rise and fall of the ill-fated Park Hotel, Cahir.
Dr Butler launched the weekend by addressing the gathering, which was standing room only, with approximately 100 persons present, and introduced the Butler-Charteris Memorial Lecturer, The Very Reverend Dr Robert B. MacCarthy, Dean of The National Cathedral of Saint Patrick, Dublin. Dr MacCarthy’s paper, entitled ‘The Cahir Estate since the Reformation, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’, was the fruit of several years of research and was particularly appropriate to the proceedings; it has just been published in the Tipperary Historical Journal (2011). Following a brief question and answer session, some of the attendance embarked on a guided tour of Cahir Castle, while others took a closer look at the photographs and exhibits of Butler-Charteris display, which included the Charteris Cups for Angling (1930s) and for the Best Shorthorn Bull at Cahir Bull Sales (1920s), as well at The Colonel’s bowler hat and hat box.
In the afternoon there was a guided tour of the Swiss Cottage in the heart of Kilcommon Demesne, conducted especially for The Colonel’s relatives and former estate employees by Dr Butler, by kind permission of the Office of Public Works. Then it was onward to the Cahir Park A.F.C. Clubhouse and grounds, where The Colonel’s relatives were formally received by Jim Halpin, Chairman of Cahir Park A.F.C., before being introduced to the management committee and embarking on a tour of the grounds, The Cricket Pavillion (the old changing rooms) and the new clubhouse. The club collection of silverware – including The Charteris Cup, were on display, as well as Cahir Park football and cricket team photos with the Colonel (he was patron of both clubs from 1921 to 1961). The capacity attendance then adjourned upstairs to the principal room of the clubhouse where, following brief addresses by the event organiser and club chairman, the room was then officially named The Colonel Charteris Room. His portrait (taken in December 1929 with The Irish Free State Cup; now The F.A.I. Intermediate Cup) was then unveiled by his grand-niece, Mrs Olwyn Wake.
The second day of events commenced with a visit to the Butler-Charteris plot at Kilcommon Burial Ground for a wreath-laying ceremony on the newly refurbished grave of The Colonel and his wife, followed by a private visit for The Charteris Family and former estate employees to Cahir Park and grounds, courtesy of Mrs Helen Wheeler, and her son, Allan.
The final part of the commemorative weekend took place in the afternoon, with a walking tour of Cahir town centre, emphasising Butler and Charteris links, conducted by Dr David Butler and Joe Walsh. Mentioned on the tour were The War Memorial (The Colonel’s nephew, Henry Richard Inigo-Jones, is commemorated thereon); The Butler-Charteris Memorial Fountain in The Square (erected to the memory of The Colonel’s father), the Old Churchyard and St Paul’s Church, where the walk ended with a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the family plaques and gallery. The weekend closed with Evensong at St Pauls, where the service was taken by The Revd Canon Barbara Fryday, vicar of Cahir, assisted by The Very Revd Pat Butler, PP Clogheen-Burncourt (whose mother had worked in Cahir Park and who took the Gospel reading), the first reading being taken by Mr William Wake, representing The Colonel’s relatives. The church was filled with the wafting aroma of white lilies, roses and chrysanthemums, most expertly arranged by churchwarden, Ms Yvonne McClintock. Some wonderful congregational singing of the hymns and canticles followed, with visiting organist Mr Ian Sexton from Cork ably accompanying Ms Jennifer Davis on Handel’s ‘For He Shall Feed His Flock’ and Mendelssohn’s ‘O Rest In The Lord’, culminating with Mozart’s anthem, ‘Laudate Dominium’.