BUTTEVANT, a post-town and parish

BUTTEVANT, a post-town and parish (formerly an incorporated market-town), in the barony of ORRERY and KILMORE, county of CORK, and province of MUNSTER, 22 miles (N. by W.) from Cork, and 121 ¾ (S. W.) from Dublin; containing 5535 inhabitants, of which number, 1536 are in the town. This parish, which is situated on the river Awbeg and on the road from Mallow to Charleville, was anciently called Bothon, and is said to have derived its present name from the exclamation Boutez en avant, "Push forward," used by David de Barry, its proprietor, to animate his men in a contest with the McCarthys, which was subsequently adopted as the family motto of the Earls of Barrymore, who derived their title of Viscount from this place. It appears to have attained considerable importance at an early period after the first invasion, from the notices of it which occur in ancient records still existing. On the 26th of September, 1234, a grant was made by Henry III. to David de Barry of a market on Sunday, and a fair on the vigil and day of St. Luke the Evangelist and for six following days.

In the 11th of Edward II. (1317), a grant of release of £105 required of the commonalty of the town of "Botavant" by the exchequer, to be applied in enclosing it with walls, was made at the request of John Fitz-David de Barry, to whom the town belonged, and who was required to see that the money was duly employed in the same. In the 49th of Edward III., another grant, dated Aug. 6th, 1375, was made to the "Provost and Commonalty of Botavaunt," ratifying a former grant of part of the "waste" of the town, with the north gate and customs there. A priory and a nunnery were founded here at an early period; the priory was restored in 1290, by David Oge Barry, Lord Buttevant, for Conventual Franciscans, and dedicated to St. Thomas the martyr; the nunnery was under the invocation of St. Owen, or St. John the Baptist, but there are no particulars of its foundation or order. During the war between the houses of York and Lancaster, the town suffered considerable devastation; and in 1568 the castle was taken by the Lord-Deputy Sydney. In 1641 the Irish army of the south assembled here under the command of Lord Mountgarret, and proceeded to Mallow: and early in the year 1643, Lord Inchiquin assembled his forces here, consisting of 4000 foot and 400 horse. The manor of Buttevant continued in the possession of the Barrymore family, and was sold by Richard, the last Earl, to the late John Anderson, Esq., of Fermoy: it was purchased, in 1831, by Lord Doneraile, the present proprietor.

The town is situated on the western bank of the river Awbeg, over which are two bridges, one on the old and the other on the modern road from Cork to Limerick: it consists principally of one main street extending along the mail coach road, and in 1831 contained 204 houses. Immediately adjoining, on the north-west, are the barracks, an extensive range of buildings, occupying a spacious enclosed area of nearly 23 statute acres, divided into two quadrangles by the central range, in which is an archway surmounted by a cupola and affording communication between them. Near Buttevant Castle is an extensive and substantial flour-mill, erected by Sir James Anderson and furnished with machinery of superior construction; it is capable of manufacturing 20,000 barrels of flour annually, but at present is not in operation.

The market has been long discontinued; but fairs are held on March 27th, July 20th, Oct. 14th, and Nov. 20th, chiefly for cattle. The market-house is situated on the west side of an open square at the southern extremity of the town; the upper part is used as the courthouse. A constabulary police force is stationed here; a seneschal's court for the manor of Buttevant is occasionally held, in which debts, not exceeding 40s. late currency, are recoverable; and petty sessions are held every alternate Wednesday. Including Lisgriffin, the parish comprises 7543 statute acres: the land is of very good quality and principally under tillage; there is neither woodland nor waste, and but a small quantity of bog. Limestone abounds, and there is one quarry near the town of very superior quality, of a light grey colour and very fine grain, from which the stone for building the new R. C. chapel has been taken. Buttevant Castle, the residence of Sir J. Caleb Anderson, Bart., was originally called King John's Castle, and formed one of the angles of the ancient fortifications of the town; it was considerably enlarged and modernised by the late Mr. Anderson, and has lost much of its antique appearance; it is beautifully situated on a rocky eminence on the margin of the river, of which it commands a fine view; within the demesne is the church, the spire of which combining with other features of the scenery adds much to the beauty of the landscape. The other seats are Castle View, that of Barry Gregg, Esq.; Velvetstown, of T. Lucas Croft, Esq.; and Temple Mary, of J. O'Leary, Esq.: there are also several neat cottage residences. The river Awbeg, celebrated by Spenser under the appellation of the "Gentle Mulla," abounds with fine white trout.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Cloyne, episcopally united, at a period prior to any existing record, to the vicarages of Bregogue and Kilbroney, and to the perpetual curacy of Cahirduggan, together forming the union of Buttevant and Cahirduggan, formerly called the union of Bregogue, in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is impropriate in C. Silver Oliver, Esq. The tithes, amounting to £926. 10., are wholly payable to the impropriator. The curate is also chaplain of the barracks; and the tithes of the benefice amount to £139. 4. The church is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a finely proportioned spire: it is situated near the river and within the castle demesne, and was built in 1826, near the site of an ancient church, of which there are still some remains, and on the site of another of more recent date; the late Board of First Fruits granted a loan of £1600 for its erection: a handsome mural monument has been erected to the Rev. T. Walker, late minister of the parish. There is neither glebe-house nor glebe. In the R. C. divisions the parish forms the head of a union or district, which comprises also the parishes of Ballybeg, Bregogue, and Kilbroney, and contains the chapels of Buttevant and Lisgriffin, both in this parish.

The new chapel at Buttevant, commenced in 1831, is now nearly completed; the estimated expense was £3000, of which £600 was granted on loan by the Board of Public Works, and the remainder raised by subscription, through the unwearied exertions of the Rev. C. Buckley, P.P., towards which Lord Doneraile contributed £30, and also presented the site. It is a very handsome structure of hewn limestone, in the later English style, consisting of a nave and transept, between which, on each side, rises a square embattled tower crowned with richly crocketed pinnacles; the walls are strengthened with buttresses at the angles and between the windows of the nave, terminating in crocketed pinnacles above an embattled parapet carried round the building; and the gables of the transept are surmounted by Maltese crosses, beneath which, on each side, is a cinquefoiled niche resting on a projecting corbel. The nave is lighted by a range of three windows of two lights ornamented in cinquefoil, with a quatre-foiled circle in the crown of the arch; and the transept is lighted at each end by a noble window of five lights, 26 feet high, and elaborately enriched with tracery: the tower on the east side was a detached watch-tower belonging to the abbey, erected by one of the Earls of Desmond for the protection of the brethren in times of violence, and incorporated with the present building.

A parochial house will be built near it for the priest's residence; and part of the old chapel has been converted into a national school, in which are 240 boys. The parochial school, in which are 40 boys and 30 girls, is kept in a house rented by the Rev. Dr. Cotter and Colonel Hill, and is supported by subscription, aided by an annual donation of £10 each from Lords Doneraile and Arden; there are also six private schools, in which are about 340 children. The fever hospital, which contains also a dispensary, is a substantial stone building near the river, capable of receiving 30 patients.

The ruins of the abbey are finely situated on the steep bank of the river Awbeg, and consist chiefly of the walls of the nave, chancel, and some portions of the domestic buildings; the upper part of the central tower, supported on arches of light and graceful elevation, fell down in 1814; the tomb of the founder, David de Barry, is supposed to be in the centre of the chancel, but is marked only by some broken stones which appear to have formed an enclosure. On the south side of the nave are the remains of a finely proportioned chapel, in which, and also in the nave and chancel, are numerous tombs and inscriptions to the memory of the Barrys, Fitzgeralds, Lombards, and others.

Near the abbey are some vestiges of an ancient building supposed to have been the nunnery. Nearly in the centre of the town are the remains of Lombards' castle, a quadrangular building flanked at each angle by a square tower, one of which is nearly in a perfect state, and, with a portion of the castle, has been converted into a dwelling-house. At Lisgriffin are the ruins of an ancient castle of the family of Barry. Some remains of the old town walls may yet be traced; and in a burial-ground at Templemary are the ruins of an ancient church or chapel. The title of Viscount Buttevant, conferred on the Barry family in 1406, has been dormant since the death of the last Earl of Barrymore, but is now claimed by James Redmond Barry, Esq., of Glandore, in the county of Cork.

Search Topographical Dictionary of Ireland »