There are six castles or towers within the parish of Buttevant. Three
are in Buttevant town. Lombard’s Castle. the Barry (or Buttevant)
castle, and the Desmond Tower.
There are also castles at Lisgriffin,
Templeconnell and Ballinguile. All these castles were built after the
Normans came, from around 1200 AD.
De Barry or Buttevant Castle
This was built by the de Barrys in the immediate years following their 1206 conquering of the previous Donegan Fortification on this site. The swift-flowing Awbeg river below the weir offered a defensive protection function while also assuring the water supply of the castle.
So, there is nothing surprising at the selection of this site as being chosen by the de Barrys to build their castle upon and subsequently where the town of Buttevant was to develop around.
For a long time, the head of the Barry clan lived here, making Buttevant a very important town of the time.
Although the Castle and it’s surrounding grounds (or “Demense”) are now privately owned, it is accessible for a few days each year.
gallery of BUTTEVANT CASTLE (click to enlarge the photos)
Substantial, intact remnants of Lombards Castle are prominent on Buttevant’s street side today. This was the town house of a family of merchants who came to settle in Buttevant, but originally from the province of Lombardy in Italy. The name Lombard is well-known in the Buttevant area from the earliest Norman times. It was seized during the mid 17th century and was granted by King Charles II of England to a Col. John Gifford. It was later used as a school until around 1818 under the legacy from a wealthy local widow, Anne Muscham.
gallery of LOMBARD’S CASTLE (click to enlarge the photos)
This is thought to have been built by the Earl of Desmond around 1430AD adjacent to the nearby Priory and was incorporated into St. Mary’s Church upon its construction. Legend has it that the Earl of Desmond retired here, heartbroken after the death of his wife in child birth. He had the door to the tower inserted some ten feet from the ground to ensure his solitude.
gallery of DESMOND TOWER (click to enlarge the photos)
Buttevant Market House
The building you see today was built in 1750 on the site of the original 13th century Market House. Buttevant has always been a thriving market town since medieval times and quite possibly even before. What is now the playground in front of Market House was once the Market Green where for many years local traders sold meats, hides, wool, grains, livestock, Irish cloth and timber.
Imported goods brought in by de Barry contacts from continental Europe would also have been available here like; wines, spices, dyes and English and European cloths. There was a weekly market and a yearly fair held in Buttevant for hundreds of years with the yearly fair arguably, eventually evolving into Cahirmee Fair which is still held to this day on the 12th of July each year in the town.
This area would also have been used in medieval times for the punishment of crimes. Petty criminals would have been put in the stocks here and the more serious offenders would have faced the gallows in this very square.
gallery of BUTTEVANT MARKET HOUSE (click to enlarge the photos)
What remains now is not the original castle, but the ruins of buildings which succeeded it built out of the older castle of the Stapleton’s in the first half of the thirteenth century.
It is reasonably certain that the castle was built by Garret de Barry about 1605-1610.
No records have been found regarding the period when this castle was built. It is of very good construction, and resembles somewhat the style of Lisgriffln Castle. So, it could have been rebuilt after 1603, almost certainly by a de Barry, who
then had a major stronghold at Liscarroll.