described in Lewis's Topographical Directory of Ireland,
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 121¾ (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 Hen, 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 Edw. 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 Edw. 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 1648, 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 banks of the River Awbeg,
over which are two bridges, one on the old and one 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 twenty-three 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 cstle is an extensive and substantial
flour mill, erected by 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
long been 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 court house. 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 he 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 Spencer 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 Bregogue in the patronage of the Bishop; the rectory is impropriate in C. Silver
Oliver, Esq. The tithes amounting to £926 10s., are wholly payable to the impropriator. The curate is also
chaplain of the barracks; and the tithes of the whole benefice amount to £139 4s. 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 demedne, 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
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 £300 was granted on
loan from the Board of Public Works, and the remainder raised by subscription, through the unwearied
excertions 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 he 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 quatrefoiled 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 into the present
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 Col. 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 also contains 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 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, Fitzgerals, Lombards and others. Near the abbey are some
vestiges of an ancient building supposed to have been the nunnery
Near the centre of the town are the remains of Lombard's
Castle, a quadrangular building flanked at each angle, by a square tower, one of which is in nearly
perfect condition, 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 remains 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.