My father moved up to Garrendenny Castle when he was 7 back in 1945, his father having inherited it from an uncle who bought it around 1908. Before that it was owned by the Warren family for about 30 years and before that were relatives to the Butler family of Kilkenny Castle, albeit very much the poorer relations.
Garrendenny was often described as a “poor man’s castle’ consisting of relatively small rooms, one room wide in the 3 storey part with a tower stairs linking the rooms. My family lived in it till 1973 and it’s pretty derelict now, providing an atmospheric backdrop to the cows as they make their way to and from the milking parlour. The following is an extract I compiled from various sources for a book we created for our local church’s 200th anniversary last year.
The Butler Family – Lord Galmoy
Edmund Butler, a branch of the Ormond Butlers, leased the lands of “Kilgorey, Crettyard orse Garrendenny” from William Hartpole in 1708. The castle was small and the land poor. A footnote (in O’Hanlon;s History) mentioning the prevalence of “shrubby wood, bog and decayed timber” over the countryside.
In 1795 the hereditary right to the title of Viscount Galmoy passed to Edmund Theobald Mandeville Butler as the owner of Garrendenny. Neither Edmund Butler nor his son Piers Theobald pursued the claim but when Piers died unmarried in 1824, his younger brother Garrett successfully proved his right to succession and assumed the title and disregarded an attainder placed on it a century before.
Garrett married Mary Ryan of Kilabban in 1835 and nothing further is known of her but it is believed that she and a baby were buried in Kilgorey. In 1840, a baby baptised at Mayo was described as the illegitimate daughter of Garrett Butler and Eliza— spinster of Mayo. Garrett married Ellen Burke in Dec 1840 even though they’d only met 3 weeks previously which suggests it was an arranged marriage for financial reasons. The marriage wasn’t announced until April 1841 and by that time, Ellen had been dismissed from Garrendenny Castle. Garrett and Eliza had a second illegitimate daughter that same year. Divorce proceedings were taken in 1844 but each application failed when Ellen and Garrett were shown up to be adulterers. Local lore has it that Ellen went mad and that was why Galmoy got rid of her (bit of a Wuthering Heights type of story except the Garrendenny Attic wouldn’t have been big enough to hide away in)!!
Garrett had four daughters Elizabeth, Anne, Geraldine and Isabella and two sons Edmund Fitzgarrett and Pierce by 1849. He possessed 800 acres across Garrendenny, Crettyard and Kilgorey. He died on 28 March 1860 aged 60 and is buried at Mayo where the slab marking his grave records him as the 9th Viscount Galmoy.
According to a letter written in the late 1920s by the grandchild of Garrett Theobald Butler (Lord Galmoy), he was a great yachtsman and was a Charter Member of the Royal Mersey Yacht Club. Apparently another branch of the Butlers, The Lonsboroughs, settled in the midland counties, are another branch, very poor too, but received just the same. Lord Galmoy?s children seem to have been impoverished compared to other gentry and of course, being illegitimate at that time, would have raised many an eyebrow. ‘The boys were the young Lords to the tenants and servants, and the girls my Ladies. Why the women folk should make such a compact to say nothing of their family and just bury themselves, I can?t understand. They were very sore at general treatment from grandfather, and felt they hadn?t sufficient means to carry their rank properly. Nowadays, that sort of thing doesn’t matter. The old battle cry is “Butler-a-boo”.’
According to another letter copied from the 1930s all the Butler children were illegitimate – I could never get Aunt Belle or Cis to talk about it but rumour has it that Garret Butler’s wife went mad soon after their marriage and they never had any family. Eliza Fitzelle was the mother of his children – he is buried in the local Church of Ireland at Garrendenny.
2 daughters of Garrett and Eliza (Anne and Geralda) moved to New Zealand. One of their daughters Elizabeth Butler was living in Belfast when she married William Nicholas Pratt in 1868. They had 7 living children. Their first born was Mary Elizabeth Pratt and her daughter Joan Ferris moved to Canada.
Elizabeth and Nicolas’s sons William and Robert emigrated to New Zealand. Their daughter Ann (Nan) married a banker and they emigrated to South Africa.