Kilkenny Castle and the legacy of the Butler family live on.
The Butlers of Ormonde Castle dominates Kilkenny City and the Butlers of Ormonde family dominated political and commercial life in the region for many years. There were other castles under the Butler coat of arms from Wicklow to Tipperary. However, as the cost of keeping these large castles escalated, the family began to sell off the furniture to pay the bills. In the 1930s, the family held a ten day auction of three thousand items. By the 1960s, the sixth Marquess of Ormonde, James Arthur Norman Butler, decided to call it a day and handed over the castle to the people of Kilkenny.
The sense of family and history lives on as Butlers from around the globe gathered at Kilkenny Castle to discuss their roots and more recent history. Among them is the seventh Marquess of Ormonde Charles Butler. Now aged 92, Charles Butler was born in Britain and made America his home. He approves of his cousin's decision in the 1960s to hand over the castle to the public and is pleased to see the continued restoration of the castle. While he is happy that the castle was lost to the family, he has different feelings about the potential loss of the Ormonde title itself as he has had no sons to succeed him.
When I depart this world... it will be the end, title and all.
George Butler, Chairman of the Butler Society, is hopeful that there are still some relatives in the wings that may lay a claim on the title. However, they would have to prove their lineage.
Melosina Lenox Conyngham, Secretary of the Butler Society, says that you would have to go back to the 16th century to the sons of the eighth Earl who had a large number of sons to find a successor.
I’m sure that one of them will perhaps come forward and become the next Earl of Ormonde.
While the future of the title is uncertain, Frank Kavanagh, supervisor at Kilkenny Castle, believes that the legacy of the family lives on.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 15 September 1991. The reporter is Michael Ryan.